Senegal face attack :(


Aug 6, 2014
My newly adopted senegal is 15. Loves me from the getgo. Is very bonded to me. I just observe his behavior before petting him or picking him up or getting anything in his cage since he is temperamental. But he clung to me as his new owner which is great.

His past owner said he was friendly with a couple others who paid attention to him so I figured in time this would transfer over to his new life with me too. When people come into my room with me there, he puffs up and does his "angry chirp". When people go in and I'm not there he likes the attention and does his chirping dancing game with anyone who does it with him.

The first few days I owned him he bit me and drew blood, because we were both new to each other in his major life change, it was whatever. Never had an issue since just as long as I cater to his attitude and diva self.

Couple months into owning he bit my S.O. We figured the same thing. I try to socialize them through the cage. They do mimick games after he calms down after the initial angst of someone else coming into my room.

Last night I figured let me try to take him out again and put him on my S.O.'s knee. Not arm (to avoid climbing to shoulder) but knee, and he sat there and I let him feed him millet and he was calm and ate the millet and I scratched his head and things seemed, well, going great! A big step i thought. Then after awhile I said okay it's time to take away the millet he ate like half a piece so I told him to just kinda gently pull it away cause he's a hog but I got it from him and put it on the floor and he sat there...then he started to walk towards my man's arm and was biting his beak quite audibly on his sweatshirt and my man was like umm okay he's putting a hole in my new clothes I think it's time to stop I think he's angry we took away millet. Next thing I know he's walkikg up his arm again and we think he just wants to sit on his shoulder, but he attacked his face..... I had to grab him and shield my man. We were shocked.

Did we do something wrong with the way we went about taking away the millet? Was it that? Or do you think when he started chewing a hole in his clothes and moving closer to my man that my man got anxious and caused my parrot to tense up too? I asked him honestly did you get anxious and he said he didn't, he really thought my senegal was wanting to sit on his shoulder and we thought it was a cute good thing until the face attack.

I caged him and spent my evening sewing the sleeve and trying to coax him not to hate my parrot and that he's probably just not used to his new home yet. 2 months in a new home from previous 15 year home. And I see him everyday. My S.O. doesn't, but he acknowledges him everytime he comes in my room. He made effort and my parrot really bugged out last night. I am sad and afraid for both of them now. :( an attack to the face is way more personal. I can't expose my man to that it's not fair to him, but I don't want to give up on the idea of them bonding. They said the senegal liked multiple people in his old home. Had one main person like myself now but still was friendly to a few others...I am confused and don't know why he launched at my man's face so fast and aggressively. It was very scary.
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Senegals are known to be unpredictable. I never allow mine on my shoulder, unless she jumps on me, but then she is promptly removed. My husband allows it, but he understands the risks.

I have come t realize, NEVER get between a senegal and 1. It's food, and 2. It's toys.

If you give him some millet (or other treat) only give as much as you want him to eat, and wait until he is done. They get very possessive of thier toys too. I only know this because I've been at the end of a Senegals biting beak, and it wasn't a fun experience. She will get huffy and throw her toys too if I interfere with her playing experience. So I don't touch them or play with her with them. When she is with me its cuddle time, no toys no food, just me.
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I am just confused because I have taken things from him before, and I mean he hasn't shown that type of aggression with me ever. I am careful about where he is when I go in his cage to change food and water or move toys. I make sure he is a safe distance because yes he does get moody. But I've never seen him go for the face. I am not sure if I should take this lightly as an isolated incident or not.

I don't know if I should be trying to justify his behavior and keep trying or if I am in denial or naive about this situation. I just know that the more aggression he shows to my partner the more my partner is going to dislike him. He was extremely turned away by this incident. He wanted nothing to do with him and I can't blame him, I would feel the same to an extent. He's not even the bird owner/lover, I am. So it's hard to explain to him and for him to fully understand the nature of these things.

But I'm not so sure what to do from here on out.
Like Wendy said, they're known to be unpredicitable. Many times they show such a subtle body language or just a split second beforehand, that we don't expect it. It's not only Senegals, but the other similar sized Poi's as well. I have 2 Poi's, (Robin I've had over 20 years) and I've also known countless Senegal owners. We all say about the same thing lol. They've also got a pretty big beak for their body. Males especially.

Then on top of that, hormonal season is no joke :eek:. Not sure about females, but males can take a chunk out of you! Wintertime (or shorter daylight) is the hormonal trigger for Poi's. Still my favorite genus of parrots :D
My female sennie tried to give my wife a lip piercing and the male nailed her on the shoulder when she got too close to him.

Julie and Wendy are correct. They can be unpredictable. I'd keep him away from faces.
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The thing is, he wasn't near his face, I put him on his knee to eat millet that way he was nowhere near arms shoulder face, etc. To avoid bites. It was going well until we took away the millet and then he launched himself up to my partner's face. Should we keep trying (and not taking away the millet), or do you think this is a clear indicator to keep them away from each other, period. This is my first experience with poicephalus and a rehomed parrot. He is okay with me and I can tell when it's not a good idea to disturb him because we get along and I'm with him daily. I don't know what to do about bonding between him and my partner. Should I just give up on the idea... I hate to walk away like this but I don't want him getting bitten. He really could have hurt him. Don't know if I should try again without taking away the food. But even if I don't take away the food, what happens when it runs out? Will it happen again? Is the food just a distraction and then he realizes and will lunge again? He literally flew up at his face. I don't know how to proceed. :(
I don't think the food or lack of had anything to do with it personally. I hate to say, but it just sounds like Poi tendencies. The one person tendnecies within this genus is very strong. With most other species, a good deal of early socialization goes a long way to curb this tendency, but with Poicephalus parrots you might be successful, you might not be. I'm sure it has something to do with their social structure and behavior in the wild.

Robin my Red Bellied was a one person bird up until his later teens, when he became a 2 person bird. He hated everyone up until then. This was an unusual occurrence I'd say. From talking to and hearing of many Senegal and other Poi owners over the years, I think the majority of them remain one person birds regardless of socialization. My closely related Ruppell's is a typical example.
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When Sydney is in the mood he'll go check out my wife and maybe sit on her leg (especially if she has something interesting, like popcorn.) But the rest of the time he doesn't and she doesn't try to force it.
When Sydney is in the mood he'll go check out my wife and maybe sit on her leg (especially if she has something interesting, like popcorn.) But the rest of the time he doesn't and she doesn't try to force it.

This sounds like a good idea. Why not just let him go to your bf when and if he wants to. Otherwise, don't push it. Even then, just be aware Poi's are quick to displacement bite and bite in general, probably more than any other genus out there.

On a good note, maybe he'll be like my Robin in several years? Robin had significantly mellowed out as he got up near 20 years old. He's still healthy, just bites less hard most of the time, and is a bit more tolerant of things.
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