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Jun 27, 2020
Pineapple Greencheek Conure: Hilo (hee-loh) 8 weeks :)
So I’ve had my greencheeck conure baby for about 2 and a half weeks now and it’s like we’ve never been apart. He loves me so much. Which Im so very greatful for because when I first got him he wouldn’t really interact with me and always bit. I was so sad. (Thanks for everyone’s tips who got him to where he is now!) Now all he wants to do is be right with me and right when he wakes up he flies to me and cuddles up with me and sleeps for another hour. (I never go to sleep I just sit and watch tv). He also really loves scritches. He is indeed a Velcro bird. He almost acts like a dog. I love how much he loves me but I’m scared it’s too much or not healthy. He absolutely hates to go in his cage now. He fights me to go in there and when he does he’ll eat and drink but after that he just goes to the bottom and paces back and forth waiting for me to notice him and come over. Which I usually do cause I feel bad. And if I leave the room he does that and screams. He has lots of different perches and cool foraging toys and shredding toys in a large flight cage but he doesn’t Interact at all with them. The only time he really quietly goes into his cage is at night and that’s after I hear him up for like 5 minutes pacing around which breaks my heart. I get worried if I have to leave somewhere. I don’t think this is healthy, any tips?
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Welcome and so glad you reached out! Parrots are tough in that respect but they are SOOOO different from dogs or cats, so stick with me here (I'm not judging--I am genuinely trying to help and you are not the first or the last to struggle with this)

It's time for some tough (but understanding/patient) love. You are creating a monster...You cannot and should not continue this because it is very unhealthy for him and will become complicated at puberty (they get even louder and pushier then). You must not be viewed as a mate, and you must teach him that he can be okay on his own for short periods of time (or even a few hours)...You will have to go to the store...you will have to work...you will have to leave him when you live your life for the next 20+ years.

You have GOT to teach independence and stop setting a precedent that will be unsustainable or you will end up with a very anxious and upset bird with behavioral issues...Imagine if you had a 10 year-old-kid who you carried everywhere and you were his only source of fun and he cried when you left...and the kid didn't play with toys etc etc (that is you right now---your bird will be sexually mature around 1 year-old, unlike a human)..but they live for a long time...soo......To put this in perspective a bit, can you imagine a mother carrying around an 18 year-old sobbing child who only wanted to be with her and also wanted to marry her? That is kind of what can happen with birds that never learn to be independent ...Think Robin Arryn in Game of Thrones (if you have seen it LOL)-- They are still flock animals, so they still need a lot of attention--- I am not saying to ignore him for good or neutral behavior, but you have to draw a line somewhere.

Think of this as a kid-- when they cry, it is sad, but sometimes, they need to just cry and see that they can self-soothe and get over it (they can deal with not getting their way if they have the tools to manage). This is why getting a baby can be complicated because it can be difficult to know how/where to draw that line-- I have no doubt you have a huge heart and love him dearly, but part of loving him is teaching him that there is life outside of you..And he really likes his life right now, so he will resist initially when things change (which is why it has to be slow and steady, but unwavering).

There is still hope-- don't freak out....You haven't "ruined" him BUT they do move slowly-- so when you start to intervene and change things, expect a push-back and increased behaviors (no behavior gets better before briefly getting worse first)...It's called an "extinction burst" and the last thing you want to do is cave at that point..You have to be more stubborn than he is, and it may seem like your nerves are raw at some point due to the screaming...Trust me when I say, it will get better if you move at a measured pace and do not give in.

1. MODEL PLAY-- show him toys on you, act like you love them, show him how to play with them.

2. PRAISE him if he shows any interest-touches the toy, looks at the toy, watches you play with the toy, comes closer to investigate the toy (clearly he is an attention lover).

3. START PUTTING HIM DOWN and definitely stop with the cuddles (head and neck touching only)-- these will become so inappropriate when he hits sexual maturity but he will still expect them.

4. When you put him down, start using key-words to tell him what you are doing, and if you leave the room, BEFORE he starts crying, call to him and talk to him so he knows you are around even though he can't see you. I tell mine, "I am taking out the trash", "I am sweeping", "I am unloading the dishwasher", "going to the bathroom", "going to the store", "going to work" , "going outside" etc-- enough repetition of phrases paired with similar time periods and they will start to figure out when they can expect you to return. I also say "be right back" for each activity if it will take under 20 minutes.

5. IF HE STARTS SCREAMING AND YOU HAVE ALREADY LEFT-- DO NOT REPLY- DO NOT RETURN...DO NOT RESPOND...DO NOT EVEN LOOK AT HIM...WAIT HIM OUT...Start with 5 seconds...when he is quiet for 5 seconds (5 SOLID-Mississippi) seconds, then come back in, praise and reward using a phrase like, "thanks for being quiet" (say it in a quiet voice yourself). NEVER EVER attend to screaming etc---don't tell him "no"...all of that is attention, which is what he wants. Let's say he is quiet for 3 Mississippi and then screams...you have to start back at one. The key is that you do not attend in any way until there is a solid 5 seconds of non-screaming. The only exceptions to this rule would be if he is genuinely in pain or terrified (not of being alone-- but seriously feeling threatened), and those screams are nothing like the typical cries/screams that you have likely heard up until this point...Once he has mastered 5 seconds, increase the count to 10 before returning. HINT: DO NOT leave anything in the room if you think he may scream-- if you go back in to get your keys or phone while he is screaming you are showing him that screaming gets you to come back...and you do not want that. You can prevent the screaming BEFORE it happens by talking to him and keeping him busy with toys, but once it starts, you need to be totally disconnected (no talking to him, no talking about him, no proximity, no eye-contact..NOTHING)
**Note---anything less than 5 seconds is too close to the screaming behavior, which is why I picked that time. If he screams and you come in 3 seconds later, it could appear as though you returned because of the scream.

6. Also- if you have any huts. tents, boxes, shadowy spaces, hollow holes/coconuts etc remove them from his cage. They will sleep on the perch just fine and any cave or shadowy hollow will encourage weird/problematic sexual behavior long-term. Don't continue doing things that will not be okay when he is an adult.

You need to set him on his cage and put his favorite stuff in there-- show him that he can go in without getting locked up. If every time he is in his cage, you lock him up for 4+ hours, he is never going to want to enter, so you have to prove to him that most of the time when he goes in, he will still be allowed to come right back out....Lots of people lock their birds up the second they enter to avoid a struggle, but the problem with that is that they learn, "I go in, the door shuts....Therefore, I will not go in."
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! He is very much so a pushy baby lol. It’s just hard to say no to his little face but I have to show tough love. And what I meant by cuddles is head scratches never below the neck and no huts of any sort. Thank you so much for your tips, I will definitely start working on those with him. .
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I know it can be super hard--- just remember, you love him, so you have to teach him (or he will become unbearable for everyone--himself included).
Also- they can get a lot pushier, so just try to do it now rather than later, because right now, he is still a baby (which is way less complicated than dealing with these behaviors when he is around a year old). I am not saying to cut him off from all attention-- he still needs to be out with you and interacting etc for at least 3 hours, but all day with you carrying him is too much.
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I forgot to ask this (EEK)--if he is not weaned (AKA, still hand feeding/not eating on his own entirely), do not ignore the screaming. I am guessing he is weaned, but if he isn't then that is different! This just occurred to me when I saw 8 weeks on your profile-- they can wean from 7-11 weeks (roughly) but I started to worry...

If he is eating find and maintaining weight, ignore the screaming.
IF HE IS NOT, that may signal that he is still hungry etc-- so consider a gram scale etc and keep an eye on his diet if you haven't already.
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Yes he is fully weaned :) 8-9 weeks old now

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