Screaming unmanageable, toys are scarce and uninteresting; help!!

luckys_dad

New member
Feb 6, 2020
5
0
Parrots
Lucky, the Male Aru Eclectus
My guy is roughly two years old (maybe three, the adoption papers are contradictory) and I've had him for just over a year now.

He's normally very kind and sweet but some days (like today) the screaming becomes so bad that I find myself regretting even starting the years of research I did before adoption prior to him. Constant alarm screams, flying back and forth between rooms, and as of the last few days, screams that sound more like desperation (long, drawn-out screams that are clearly caused by stress). They break our heart as much as they hurt our ears.

The current tirade (literally as I'm typing this) has lasted for about 30 minutes, which is approaching an all-time record.

I have a significant other now living with me for about 5 months now, and while they get along fine for the most part, the screaming is becoming a massive strain on the entire household.

The problem is, I know exactly why it's happening. Lucky used to find toys all the rage - he'd spend hours on them at a time, every day, and couldn't get enough. He's very particular - soft woods only, or paper-ey thing, but no hard wood, acrylic, or metal. Food-based toys aren't interesting to him, as I've tried to get creative with various foraging toys (ranging from Solo-type cups all the way up to hanging broccoli in his cage like I saw on Youtube once). The only food-based thing he's seemed to be interested in is an acrylic wheel that we can put seeds in, but he goes through a good amount of seeds in just a few minutes, and I don't want to overdo it because I'm afraid of liver diseases due to the fat content.

So it was simply toys, toys, and more toys for the first 9 or so months - and despite the extra cost (which I absolutely do not mind), everyone was happy.

However, I noticed a pattern about 6 months in - he only likes to play with a particular toy once, and here in Germany, I'm running out of options.

Amazon.de toy selections are slim, and are pretty much entirely geared towards budgies (small, twine-ey types of toys) and macaws (large, elaborate hardwood toys). Very little is suited for Lucky's tastes.

Further, I cannot find a single toy shop that ships to Europe. Even the two sponsored listings on here today (Hoot n Holler & Parrot Toys Plus) are either US only or the site is broken (as was the case with Parrot Toys Plus).

I've even looked into starting a bird toy company to serve Europe a bit because it's clearly a niche needing filling, but I cannot find any parrot-safe materials vendors that are reasonably priced that wouldn't inflate the costs beyond what is feasible (my math was placing comparable toys in the 4-5x price range over Amazon). Maybe I just wasn't looking hard enough, idk.

I'm at wits end. Lucky is currently having a fit and I honestly don't even know what to do. I know he's bored - he has five or six partially-played-with toys in different parts of the apartment that he refuses to touch now - toys he's enjoyed before but that I really didn't have a choice to re-order because there's nothing else he'll play with.

I've resorted to giving him shelled (roasted, unsalted) peanuts quite often now because they're the one thing he finds interesting to shred apart, but because they're not very good for him (and a little risky to boot) and that I know he'll eventually get bored of them, they're a last resort that I would like to reduce back to the realm of "high-reward treat" and not "good god please fill your mouth with something except for screams" bandaids.

HELP. None of the guides I've ever watched teach you how to deal with scream-fits in the moment, only how to alleviate them over time or to prevent them to begin with, all of which I feel like I've tried with decent diligence to little avail. I know he's bored but I feel as though I have no more options.

EDIT: Worth mentioning that his diet is fine, his feathers are healthy, latest vet visits are OK, and when he's interested in hanging out with us and whatnot everything else is fine. He doesn't pluck, he's otherwise very good at communicating what he wants (e.g. he indicates when he wants to shower, when he wants to train, when he wants to go to bed even). As far as I can tell, this is purely an issue of boredom, and I want to fix it and would otherwise be able to if I were still in the US but I feel as though the resources here in Europe are... well, terrible.

EDIT2: About 45 minutes after it started, his fit has ended. We had to put him in his cage, cover it, and close the bedroom door. I hate doing this because I know it's the absolute wrong thing to do, but nobody was benefitting from the tantrum. He's calmed down now and is just mad at us. I would have thought this was a hormonal fit but he just finished a hormonal period a week ago (it lasted maybe a week and a half to varying degrees of aggression, clinginess and triggerability). So this seems to be acutely unrelated to hormones.
 
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Laurasea

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Aug 2, 2018
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Neptune blue quaker (MIA), Ta-dah GCC female, Penny quaker female, Pikachu quaker female!!, Phoebe quaker female, 3 parakeets males, Burt The Burd GCC female RIP
I know your pain, it is unrelenting torture, and madness inducing.

Unfortunately it can take some time and a multiprong approach.

First thing i would do is reintroduce your new significant other. Really being respectful to tge parrot and explaining things. Some how intent does come across to them. Have SO greet them right away when ever come home, and have them say good bye when tgey leave the home. This worked wonders when I had a new SO. He gave them each a treat hello, and good bye. This can sound wacko......( but my GCC was so jealous), we had a " date" with her. We git a plate of strawberries to share her favorite! Sat on the couch with her watched a movie, and fed her strawberries and passed her back and forth, really made over her! After that it was wonderful!!! She felt included, respected.

Next you need to prevent the screaming. If you know what time of day, plan for a bird bath and foraging.

Be creative in making your own toys. Making a hanging gym. I use ceiling hooks and fishing line to hang perches a few inches above the cage. Why not use that space?
This has some good information, like patterning
To music https://lafeber.com/pet-birds/stress-reduction-for-parrot-companions/

I've turned 4 screaming parrot around. Its always the basics that did it. Lots of out of cage time, increased free choice of movements ( allowed to be flighted) increase choice of natural behaviors, climbing, baths, foraging, shredders . Lots if feeding treats all day when doing good stuff. Being quite a quick hi and treat, or play, give treat, random walk by give treat. Especially important greetings them first thing in the morning, within minutes of your feet hitting the floor. Morning is very important to parrots. They sound off to make sure everyone is still alive, to strength bonds before they head out
 
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OP
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luckys_dad

New member
Feb 6, 2020
5
0
Parrots
Lucky, the Male Aru Eclectus
  • Thread Starter
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  • #3
Hey Laurasea, thanks for the quick response.

It is indeed madness inducing. Anecdotally, there is an outdoor aviary nearby with some mustache parakeets living there and their screams seem pleasant compared to Lucky's. A man can dream...

SO does greet whenever he leaves, comes home, and even when it's bedtime there's always a kiss goodnight. SO has also taken over all daily feeding duties at this point, and has done so for months. Adding treats alongside greets is a good idea, though - I'll make sure to add this to the regimen, thank you.

As for the intent, yes absolutely. This was something I read prior to adoption that I simply didn't believe ("they must just love animals way, way too much and personify them or something") but now fully understand. If we're leaving to grab coffee or something for just a few minutes, there's a huge difference between putting him in his cage, and putting him in his cage saying "we're going to go out for just a second and be right back!". For whatever reason, the latter always earns me an instant step-up. A treat always helps, of course, but verbally explaining what we're doing is definitely an example of this "intent" recognition. It's wild and always impresses me about parrots.

The dates sound fun, maybe we do that tonight. I'll run and get some goodies from the store.

As for the hanging gym, it sounds great, but I'm always so paranoid about materials. Is fishing line safe? I feel for every article that says something is safe for a parrot, there's another one that says it's unsafe :/ I find it really, really hard to determine which materials are OK for parrots. He likes to hang upside down and do crazy acrobatics on the living room perch he has and I worry he'll get tangled up in anything that hangs.

If I could do it, though, I would immediately set that up because I know he'd enjoy it. I just want to make sure he does it safely. He's gotten his beak stuck in a toy before and while that case was harmless and kind of funny in the moment, I worry about accidents.

Are chains okay for securing things? We have tall ceilings so fishing line wouldn't work with the weight.

I have a local store that has long, pretty thick bamboo chutes (hardened) that I've thought about hanging up with some chains, but the employees can't seem to answer if it's been treated or not so I've gotten to be pretty paranoid.

Thanks so much :)

EDIT: Just saw your edits, thanks for the link, giving it a read now. We definitely do a lot of this but the lack of toy play usually means I'm getting a nibble on the ear every other minute, all day long. I'd love for him to have more choices in the house. We don't mind the occasional random scream, of course, and he loves to talk and babble frequently, which we absolutely love hearing. He loves being a part of our phone calls and he always finds a spot on our shoulder should they happen.

I'm always nervous about treats though. All of the literature I've read about eclectuses basically says that sugars and fats should be kept to a minimum, and unfortunately for Lucky that includes things he considers as "treats". I already feel like I give him too much alongside the fruit that's in his diet already. :/ It's a real balancing act.
 
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Ira7

Banned
Feb 9, 2020
621
1
Coral Springs, FL
Parrots
YNA
My heart goes out to you.

As a kid, my family had to give up a conure because of the screaming. Of course, I didn’t know then what I know now, but it’s still a very rough road to travel.

I’ve thought long and hard about that bird over the years before deciding to have KIDS!
 

Laurasea

Well-known member
Aug 2, 2018
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Neptune blue quaker (MIA), Ta-dah GCC female, Penny quaker female, Pikachu quaker female!!, Phoebe quaker female, 3 parakeets males, Burt The Burd GCC female RIP
Maybe you need to go back to taking care of him as your basic routines. SO , can just do greets and treats.

Hello, lol, fishing line is sting enough to haul in hundreds of pounds of fish. Look at weight rating. I have used fir years no issues. Yiu can attach plastic links or something at tgr end before your attachments if yiu think would chew the line, but its pretty strong. Also choose ceiling hook based on weigh ratings

Just walked over, and all my birds were having fun so I took a picture . I really need to make more artistic and visual appeal to me....but provide point of reference for you. I attach yucca chips, chew stuff, treats, " easter eggs" for them to find:
laurasea-albums-quaker-picture23152-20210209-110233.jpg


Or more simple like this. Gives them their own " furniture " to hang out on
laurasea-albums-obi-picture22984-20210110-104634.jpg


Edit: treats are just treats cuz you handed it to them! I give popcorn, pellets, peas, normal diet foods to them by hand. They just thrilled I handed them something lol birds understand food gifts.
 
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FancysMom

Member
Nov 4, 2018
75
7
Greensboro, NC
Parrots
U2 - Francis "Francie"
Maybe I'm way off here but it sounds to me like he's hit puberty. The age sounds about right (?) and so does the behavior. I'm basing that on cockatoos though so I could be wrong. I don't really know about Eclectuses.
 

itzjbean

Well-known member
Jan 27, 2017
2,572
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58
Iowa, USA
Parrots
2 cockatiels
What about a huge change in routine, as in, keeping him from getting bored, like getting a large play gym with tons of fun toys and stuff to do? Just a thought, sorry I couldn't help more. Can he spend any time outside on a harness?> Does he know any flight recall, or do any training indoor with his wings? How are his sugar levels currently in his food?
 

Laurasea

Well-known member
Aug 2, 2018
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Neptune blue quaker (MIA), Ta-dah GCC female, Penny quaker female, Pikachu quaker female!!, Phoebe quaker female, 3 parakeets males, Burt The Burd GCC female RIP
So you moved, got a SO, and changed his routine...sure lol, of course is screaming!!!

Try to give him a routine, you go back to being care giver.

In the moment screaming is hard to stop. Some saw wear ear plugs, as soon as quiet fir a second give attention.

I find prevent is best. By keeping rm busy. Foraging, .. target training is also good to add, as way to engage mind.

I'll have to read your edits.
But change your thinking, don't focus on the can't, and difficulty, focus on creativity and what you can do.

My birds love to shred old paperbacks. I float plastic caps in shallow dish and put a seed in the cap. I give a cup of plastic bottle caps. I thread plastic rings on a stick. They never get tired of working thrm off. Serve veggies in larger chunks make him work for it. Put veggies in those stainless steel holder do they have to work at. Burd tricks you tube videos has tons if great stuff. She talks about making veggies harder to get makes them want them more!"
I cut brown paper bags into fringe snd hang so they have to duck under..
There is tons of DIY toys and Foraging ideas out there.
 

Ellie777Australia

Supporting Member
Apr 12, 2019
1,280
49
Queensland, Australia
Parrots
SI Eclectus Female, Ellie; RS/SI Eclectus Male, Bertie (both adopted as rescue/re-home)
Your boy has reached sexual maturity and has also experienced a change in routine. He will need the routine with you reestablished. You will also have to consider how to manage the screaming effectively and prevent hormone triggers. Here are a couple of links to get started:


https://www.birdhealth.com.au/eclectus
[FONT=&quot]“Male Eclectus parrots reach sexual maturity between 2-3 years of age. From this age seasonal feather picking is a common behavioural problem. As pets the emotional needs of the pet Eclectus parrot are often underestimated. They are a highly intelligent bird and will adapt to a routine from an early age. As in the wild however, once a good routine has been established a sudden change can be disruptive.”[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
Eclectus Screaming
https://animals.mom.com/eclectus-parrot-screaming-10536.html
Excerpt: “A bored parrot can pick up all sorts of nasty behaviors. If your Eclectus does not receive the amount of attention he desires -- and deserves -- he may take to screaming to get noticed. Some parrots exhibit jealous behavior when visitors are over and will scream for attention. Another possibility for a screaming Eclectus is hormonal changes; this species does go through a hormonal period as adolescents that might cause some aggression and unwanted behavior for a short time. This does not mean you should condone the behavior, but at the least understand where it's coming from and respond accordingly.”


https://birdsupplies.com/blogs/news/how-to-stop-your-parrot-from-screaming
[FONT=&quot]Excerpt: “We accidentally teach our bird to scream when we pay attention to the bird when it's screaming. And, we accidentally make it worse by ignoring the bird when it is quiet and playing nicely.”[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]
[/FONT]
 
OP
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luckys_dad

New member
Feb 6, 2020
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Parrots
Lucky, the Male Aru Eclectus
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  • #10
Hey everyone, sorry for the radio silence.

Just wanted to give a quick update and thank everyone for their information!

I had done a ton of research on hormones and whatnot, but had never thought about puberty strangely enough. After reviewing the material above as well as the prior material I initially learned from, this is 100% puberty. I didn't realize it until Ellie's message kind of smacked me in the face! It's funny; you read and watch videos about it, know the list of signs and triggers, and you're even told "you don't realize it's happening until it's too late", and you still miss it until it's made obvious to you!

All part of the learning experience I suppose :)

Outside of a little more 1-on-1 attention and more opportunities to shower, Lucky's screaming has almost completely disappeared aside from a few spikes of excitement throughout the day.

Every few days now, we'll hear that elongated scream, but it's not constant like it was a week ago. The "playful" behavior that sometimes turns into regurgitation is still sticking around for now, so I'm doing as much as I can to keep boundaries established. When that sort of behavior manifests I simply ignore him and walk away at this point.

We've ordered a bunch of new toys, many of which are entirely paper (his favorite, although they last appx. 45 minutes as they are made primarily for smaller birds), with the hopes of establishing some independence and distractions until the final bouts of puberty subside. He's also started to play with his older untouched toys again, which is a good sign.

We're also back to a more consistent schedule and it almost seems like he's more communicative about his wants and needs now than he was before, as he's actually using words contextually to indicate what he wants. He did this before to some extent, but the few weeks prior to his hormones kicking in he stopped using his words altogether. Now, he says "cmon!" when he wants to do recall training, "peakaboo!" when he wants to play peakaboo (far and away his favorite game), and "good night, I love you!" when he wants to sleep. He's been quite cooperative, especially the last 48 hours, and things just seems to be improving on their own overall.

Thanks again for everyone's prompt responses. You don't quite realize how intense hormones can be until you experience it yourself, it seems. Who knew! ;)

EDIT: we're still going forward with adding more elaborate perches and whatnot but we've decided to postpone until we move to our new house later this year. That way, we can kind of group all of the super-stressful stuff together instead of prolonging it over the course of a year (Lucky really, really hates changes, even if it's just a small rearrangement of existing furniture).

EDIT: Oh yeah - we've also agreed to employ a strict treat-on-arrival policy. If one or both of us leave or come home, it's straight to the bird to greet with a seed. After only a few days, it appears Lucky expects this now. We shall continue doing this from now on :)
 
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katie_fleming

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Oct 30, 2012
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Montreal, Canada
Parrots
Jasper (6yr old Solomon Island Eclectus Parrot)
Does he whistle at all? Jasper does a wolf whistle, and anytime he did it I'd say "pretty whistle!" so now he associates that with a "pretty whistle".


Sometimes when he starts screaming I'll say "do your pretty whistle" and he'll normally switch over. Of course I make a BIG DEAL about it.


Might work!
 

Laurasea

Well-known member
Aug 2, 2018
9,871
1,530
USA
Parrots
Neptune blue quaker (MIA), Ta-dah GCC female, Penny quaker female, Pikachu quaker female!!, Phoebe quaker female, 3 parakeets males, Burt The Burd GCC female RIP
There are so many ways to temp them to interact with toy! Get creative! I have hung a string of beads on the outside of a cage near a perch. Lol drives them nuts trying to get them! Sometimes I add tassels they can actually work to pull inside the cage.
laurasea-albums-obi-picture23276-20210223-092655.jpg
 
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Ellie777Australia

Supporting Member
Apr 12, 2019
1,280
49
Queensland, Australia
Parrots
SI Eclectus Female, Ellie; RS/SI Eclectus Male, Bertie (both adopted as rescue/re-home)
Hey everyone, sorry for the radio silence.

Just wanted to give a quick update and thank everyone for their information!

I had done a ton of research on hormones and whatnot, but had never thought about puberty strangely enough. After reviewing the material above as well as the prior material I initially learned from, this is 100% puberty. I didn't realize it until Ellie's message kind of smacked me in the face! It's funny; you read and watch videos about it, know the list of signs and triggers, and you're even told "you don't realize it's happening until it's too late", and you still miss it until it's made obvious to you!

All part of the learning experience I suppose :)

Outside of a little more 1-on-1 attention and more opportunities to shower, Lucky's screaming has almost completely disappeared aside from a few spikes of excitement throughout the day.

Every few days now, we'll hear that elongated scream, but it's not constant like it was a week ago. The "playful" behavior that sometimes turns into regurgitation is still sticking around for now, so I'm doing as much as I can to keep boundaries established. When that sort of behavior manifests I simply ignore him and walk away at this point.

We've ordered a bunch of new toys, many of which are entirely paper (his favorite, although they last appx. 45 minutes as they are made primarily for smaller birds), with the hopes of establishing some independence and distractions until the final bouts of puberty subside. He's also started to play with his older untouched toys again, which is a good sign.

We're also back to a more consistent schedule and it almost seems like he's more communicative about his wants and needs now than he was before, as he's actually using words contextually to indicate what he wants. He did this before to some extent, but the few weeks prior to his hormones kicking in he stopped using his words altogether. Now, he says "cmon!" when he wants to do recall training, "peakaboo!" when he wants to play peakaboo (far and away his favorite game), and "good night, I love you!" when he wants to sleep. He's been quite cooperative, especially the last 48 hours, and things just seems to be improving on their own overall.

Thanks again for everyone's prompt responses. You don't quite realize how intense hormones can be until you experience it yourself, it seems. Who knew! ;)

EDIT: we're still going forward with adding more elaborate perches and whatnot but we've decided to postpone until we move to our new house later this year. That way, we can kind of group all of the super-stressful stuff together instead of prolonging it over the course of a year (Lucky really, really hates changes, even if it's just a small rearrangement of existing furniture).

EDIT: Oh yeah - we've also agreed to employ a strict treat-on-arrival policy. If one or both of us leave or come home, it's straight to the bird to greet with a seed. After only a few days, it appears Lucky expects this now. We shall continue doing this from now on :)


This is great news. Well done team.:)
 

ALRAINBOW

New member
Mar 27, 2020
41
0
Mine do scream at times so imagine 2 at a time . I use 32 db blue tooth earphones . I can control the ambient volume and noise canceling to make calls. Now having said this mine act up on ambient noises . Tv , telephone , music they don’t like it. Does your bird scream if your place is quite ?
 

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