Quaker Cage Aggression: How to Step Up?

HeatherG

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Willow came to me at 7 yo and has been here for about 17 months now. He gets very bitey when I try to get him to step up on my hand to come out of his cage. I used to grab him, then to step him up, using a dark blue hand towel; but we’ve downsized to stepping up on a dark green washcloth. It gets a few bites still but I don’t have to grab him (though he doesn’t seem to mind that much and likes to be held like a baseball).
It’s only my hands near his cage that are upsetting. Willow makes kissy noises at me when I go near his cage at night and likes me to make them back and then kiss his beak but he attacks my hand when I ask him to step up from his favorite perching spot. He will step up from favorite perch onto the washcloth if I cover my hand, but that takes a few bites and some stubbornness. Willow will step up easily onto the washcloth (or sometimes my bare hand) from the cage door or the branch on outside of his cage.
I sure wish it wasn’t so hard to get him out! It seems like he’s coming out faster than before.
Am I going about this correctly? Will we slowly get rid of the washcloth, or should I teach Willow to step him up onto a perch? He gets really mad if I press a perch onto his tummy and ask him to step up from inside his cage. I suppose I could start over stepping up on perch outside the cage?
Willow sometimes takes me by surprise as my previous Quaker, Lucy, was not generally cage aggressive towards me. She would cluck at me and puff up to get me to pick her up inside her cage. (If my back was turned and I walked away she would lunge at the cage bars. ??). Willow calls to me and obviously wants to come out, but still goes for my hand if I forget that he is not Lucy and my hands aren’t allowed in his cage.
 

hiriki

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This useful video was just shown to me yesterday by @chris-md


You're working against your own best interest when you force the bird to step up. The video covers almost exactly your issue, so I hope it'll be helpful for you.
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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Umm, I don’t see how this training has much to do with stepping up a Quaker who’s aggressive about hands in his cage, but otherwise LOVES to be petted and wants to come out. Those people on the show had two big parrots on playgyms away from their cage. their big parrots bit them AWAY from the cage. I have a a Quaker parakeet who’s calling me to come get him, loves to be pet and cuddled, but who bites at hands in his cage. This is a general Quaker parakeet trait: to protect his nest.

To clarify: Willow steps up onto my hand when the hand is covered with the washcloth. He just has to bite the washcloth a few times first. And he’s running around his cage yelling for me to come and get him out, but when I approach the front of the cage, open the door and put my hand near him, he has to bite the washcloth before he comes out. It’s like he’s so excited something has to get bitten if it’s inside his cage. Outside his cage, on the cage door, on a basket, on the floor, etc he steps right up. Showing him a perch seems to be more scary.

It’s the Quaker+ cage issue. Quakers are the only parrots who live in or around their nest all year, outside of the breeding season. Their nest protection translates to cage-protection and aggression around their cage, even when they love you.
Sometimes you NEED the bird to step up from inside the cage. If I walk over by the cage when Willow’s outside waiting for me, he runs back in and then opens his beak at me.. So waiting for him to come out so I can step him up doesn’t consistently work because he will still get excited that I’m approaching his cage and run in to ‘defend’ it.
 

Laurasea

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all of my quakers protect cage and mostly will bite or scream if I stuck my hand in . They are known for this as a species. Away from cage they are my loves

I have perches on the door and outside the door , so I just open and let them come out, sweet talk a few seconds then they step up and are loves. Problem solved, and no stress for anybody.

Phoebe was so hand phobic when I first got her, it took months to step up. So I just trained her to return to cage when asked. Was a pretty quick process, I always give a treat and lots of praise still. She is so thrilled to go back that even now I just have to ask her to and she will.

I wouldn't use any towel or wash cloth to grab.
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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Willow has a branch on his cage he can come out in, as well as the door. He yells for me to pick him up from his cage, but then runs off the perch or door and back in if I approach the cage (intending to pick him up).
i started to pick Willow up with the towel when he first came to live with me and was not used to stepping up at all, or being handled, and didn’t know me at all. He needed wings and nails trimmed. Or, when he went on an adventure and decided he wasn’t coming back. Now the washcloth just covers the scary hand, I think. Otherwise he loves to be pet. Just not in his cage.
Maybe Willow would prefer to step up on a little perch on the front of his cage that’s only for stepping up on? Because otherwise he runs back in and I have to cover my hand to get him. OR He will just have to come back out and that may take a while since the cage is so important and exciting. OR maybe I can offer a bribe and he will learn to come out and not run back in.
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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all of my quakers protect cage and mostly will bite or scream if I stuck my hand in . They are known for this as a species. Away from cage they are my loves

I have perches on the door and outside the door , so I just open and let them come out, sweet talk a few seconds then they step up and are loves. Problem solved, and no stress for anybody.

Phoebe was so hand phobic when I first got her, it took months to step up. So I just trained her to return to cage when asked. Was a pretty quick process, I always give a treat and lots of praise still. She is so thrilled to go back that even now I just have to ask her to and she will.

I wouldn't use any towel or wash cloth to grab.
If you need them to come out at a certain time, and they are being pokey, what do you do? For example, if I want to take Willow on an outing, I may need him to come right away. That’s why I would offer my hand with the cloth over it: so he knows I want him to step up and he can bite the cloth but it won’t hurt me much and he will step up in several seconds.
maybe I should ask him to step up or to come out onto his door and step up by offering some sort of treat. But what that would be I am not sure. He gets pellets and fruits and vegetables mostly. Sometimes a bit of something else like cooked egg, chicken, fish, pasta, rice. I could offer squash or pumpkin seed or a tiny bit of dried fruit. What do you think?
 

Laurasea

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Mine are never pokey lol! As soon as u open the door they come out.

You can start giving him treats and praise for coming out. It can be a lost of trust even one use of towel can have him hesitant.

I think you need to spend time resetting your bond and trust.

Hand feeding treats is a great way to have them thinking you= good stuff..
So all day long you just walk over and say hi and give a treat, that's it ask for nothing. You can still do your daily routine but sprinkle in the hi and treat many times a day. A behaviorist says to aim for 50 time!!!!, lol I have never managed that, but I think I've hit 20 easy. Reward all good behavior. I still reward all good behavior myself.

Do not be in such a rush with parrots.

Now that you have hesitancy leaving the Cage. This needs a little patience on your part, and him learning he can trust you.

Work with him , teach him that coming out is all good things, give a treat when steps out in perch, and use the same phrases and praise. It may take more time in the beginning, but he should start coming out faster in days or weeks ( bird time can be fast or slow ) . Bird pick up routine and helps if you use the same phrase , and they seem to eat up that flattering, telling them they are so smart, so fabulous and cheering lay it on thick. Mine start strutting with pride and their eyes sparkle!
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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Mine are never pokey lol! As soon as u open the door they come out.

You can start giving him treats and praise for coming out. It can be a lost of trust even one use of towel can have him hesitant.

I think you need to spend time resetting your bond and trust.

Hand feeding treats is a great way to have them thinking you= good stuff..
So all day long you just walk over and say hi and give a treat, that's it ask for nothing. You can still do your daily routine but sprinkle in the hi and treat many times a day. A behaviorist says to aim for 50 time!!!!, lol I have never managed that, but I think I've hit 20 easy. Reward all good behavior. I still reward all good behavior myself.

Do not be in such a rush with parrots.

Now that you have hesitancy leaving the Cage. This needs a little patience on your part, and him learning he can trust you.

Work with him , teach him that coming out is all good things, give a treat when steps out in perch, and use the same phrases and praise. It may take more time in the beginning, but he should start coming out faster in days or weeks ( bird time can be fast or slow ) . Bird pick up routine and helps if you use the same phrase , and they seem to eat up that flattering, telling them they are so smart, so fabulous and cheering lay it on thick. Mine start strutting with pride and their eyes sparkle!
I’m glad to have these tips. I started in a weird place with Willow as he’d been flying around his previous owner’s home, not being handled. He wasn’t used to anything. Yet, he really liked me, wanted to be snuggled and pet in the 3 hr car ride home from her house and would beg for attention (calling, yelling) but then got so wound up if I got near the cage. He was not touched at all in his previous home and just did his thing. More like a wild bird but he seemed kind of lonely and was picking. Willow doesn’t pick at all now. He seems pretty happy. Purrs for me daily.
my last Quaker, Lucy, seemed to like my hand in her cage. If all of me could’ve gotten inside the cage, she would’ve been happy. It is so different to have him upset when I approach after he ‘asks’ for attention!

Anyhow, I will back off on making Willow come out ‘now’, as in within next five minutes, and connect treats and praise with coming out to see mom. Willow certainly picks up on what I enjoy. I laughed when he yawned and now he does it a lot.
thank you.
 

Laurasea

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Lucy was extra trusting ;)
Willow is the more typical behavior, he really does want you to come Over and wants your attention. Its just they loose their mind protective of cage. They just can't help it poor babies.

Truly mine are monsters at the cage, scream their war cry , snake neck ready to strike with beak.
Then they step out as if on a ray of sunshine wanting kisses abd head rubs asap.

I hope you guys get past these bumps quickly ! I always likevto see more quaker pictures
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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Lucy was extra trusting ;)
Willow is the more typical behavior, he really does want you to come Over and wants your attention. Its just they loose their mind protective of cage. They just can't help it poor babies.

Truly mine are monsters at the cage, scream their war cry , snake neck ready to strike with beak.
Then they step out as if on a ray of sunshine wanting kisses abd head rubs asap.

I hope you guys get past these bumps quickly ! I always likevto see more quaker pictures
It seems I just needed to know how to ask. Or not to ask from inside the cage.
I went over to Willow’s cage and didn’t put my hand in with the wash cloth over it. I took a tiny piece of mango, showed it to him, and asked him to come out.
Willow climbed down from his favorite perch, meandered over to the door and walked out on the door. He looked at me and lifted his foot. I asked him to step up and he stepped up. Then I told him what a good smart bird he was. He looked quite proud of himself, too.

We humans can be stupid. Guess I just had to ask correctly.
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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We are having continued success today as Willow first climbed out of his cage because I was petting the other bird and then later hadn’t seen me for a few hours (still sleeping off a bad cold).
I guess this problem was a communication error? I am glad I am not upsetting him any more.
 

Laurasea

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I hope you continue to feel better.
Glad you and Willow continue to improve your understanding of each other!
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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I just realized how this problem all started. Lucy (late Quaker who had a bad leg) wanted me to pick her up from inside her cage so she wouldn’t have to stagger out. So, I did. She would beg and cluck at me so I’d pick her up from her ladder perch or the cage floor. My first Q, Gonzo, also wanted me to pick her up from inside her cage. I got her when she was just a baby; just barely weaned. If either bird was in a really bad mood they might snap at me, but that wasn’t often and I could usually figure out what I’d done to tick them off. It seems they were very very sweet birds.

Now, Willow purrs and closes his eyes and tries to feed me and preens my eyelashes but he doesn’t like me inside his cage. I did not realize that most Qs are so funny about their cages. Willow varies about being picked up from his cage in my bedroom. Sometimes he defends it but sometimes he lifts his foot up to me while inside his cage. I wish I could see these birds in the wild. It is too cold and rural where I live for QPs.
 

Laurasea

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So Willow is still doing better and more trusting when you ask him to come out of the cage?

Over all things improved? Less bites?
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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Yes. Willow is doing much better. He comes out of his cage quickly and I think the hurt feelings from being made to step up are gone. He relaxes for a nice scritch sooner and purrs for me. Has been staying out on his basket for an hour or so at a time and is starting to play with new toys faster. He seems like less of a scaredy cat lately.

Willow has actually been letting me fill and change his food without trying to devour me and let’s me poke around a bit in his cage to add stuff for him (getting less ferocious than before). He is not a big talker but my place is pretty quiet so I guess that’s reasonable. Willow has started to jabber and make more normal Quaker noises in the morning which helps me think he is more content. Thank you for your advice! Below is a photo of us from last week.
 

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Laurasea

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Pure love! such a great picture!! Really moving!! Such a powerful showing of parrot human bond

I've been trying to talk more to my girls
They make a funny imitation of "buuuuuuuurd " back to me no matter what I say they talk over me in unison with buuuuurd.. I laugh so its probably cemented for all time lol but they laugh too...they dont say much else ...but maybe one day
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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Pure love! such a great picture!! Really moving!! Such a powerful showing of parrot human bond

I've been trying to talk more to my girls
They make a funny imitation of "buuuuuuuurd " back to me no matter what I say they talk over me in unison with buuuuurd.. I laugh so its probably cemented for all time lol but they laugh too...they dont say much else ...but maybe one day
Yes. I do love my little blue guy.

I still miss and think of Lucy, but Willow is such a sweet and cool bird and having him here for company helps a lot. He is starting to be noisier which I hope means he’s more comfortable and also asking for more attention. No, I haven’t known him for twenty years but maybe I will.

I am saying a few short phrases in an excited voice to Willow and he has started moving his beak and making a very quiet sound. So I tell him “good bird!” which I hope lets him know that making a noise in response is “good”. That timing thing is really important. He is also playing with toys more, I think.

I hope my birds are mostly happy birds. Maybe they don’t always get enough attention if I am sick, but they are always safe and clean and well fed and at most a room away from me. I got some jalapeños and will cut them in thick slices to treat Willow and Jasper with. Then I will need to stay away from the beaks for a while. Better have our head scratching sessions first 😁
 
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HeatherG

HeatherG

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Today Willow didn’t want to come out, so I left his cage open and got Jasper out. I was petting Jasper and talking to him and guess who came tearing out of his cage?

So I stepped Willow up and an put him on my shoulder, petted Jasper a bit more, and put Jasper back in his house. That’s right, it’s not fair. But Jasper has been known to bite very hard and fast when he’s upset, and I wasn’t sure if Willow on my shoulder would be upsetting.

Then I tried to step Willow up and he gave me a quick hard pinch—what I call a punishment bite. He gave me a couple more of those and I decided that since he was otherwise behaving himself I’d let him calm down before removing him from my shoulder.

I’m wondering about these punishment bites. Lucy did not bite at all except for a very few rare occasions when I had screwed up and she felt I deserved some good pinches. Now Willow is biting less and less but he was not happy with me today and did give a few punishment bites. Is this a Quaker parakeet thing or do all pet parrots do this?
 

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