Sudden Biting Behaviour

CloverS13

New member
Sep 6, 2016
3
0
Parrots
Kakariki
Hey Everyone,

Firstly I am very new to both owning a parrot and the parrotforums. I have had nothing but canaries for the last 10 years, and sadly lost my old girl to a tumour. I decided that I wanted to acquire a bird that would last a bit longer, therefore I could get more time with.

I have had Clover the male Kakariki for about 2-3 months now, in which time he has migrated from stepping onto the perch, to onto my finger, sitting happily on my knees playing, and playing around with toys with whomever. I have, and will never have him on my shoulder, after bad experiences, and now over the last week, he has given me just reasoning to keep it this way.

He will not hop onto my finger any more, instead opting to biting it. I have tried not reacting, although it is very hard when he breaks skin every time and I am bleeding. I have tried substituting my finger for something else which he simply bypasses, and also leaving him for a little while to cool off however he continues this behaviour which only results in me sternly saying no a million times. The only way to pick him up is to let him bite and then immediately move my hand enough that he has to balance himself, although I do not want to keep up with this because I don't want him thinking that it is unsafe to hop on all the time (Will this happen).

He will however continue to play, and does sit on my knees still, although I have to be careful not to get too close when playing now because as I said, if he bites he bites hard, and I'm left with bleeding and sore fingers so I am very guarded with them.

I have never disciplined, simply because I have never needed to, and he goes in and out of his cage at his own leisure, only at the start have I put him in the cage and that was only ever by perch.

The only changes are, I have been mixing pellets in with his seed as he was only eating the sunflower seeds and nothing else out of it. We are just into the third week of Spring here, and the only other thing that I have found on the internet is that it could be hormonal.

Is there any ways to stop such behaviour? I have also read that biting is unnatural in parrots, and I don't want him to turn into one because of my incompetence. Or is it best to just keep bonding with him without making him hop on? Or will that untame him and make him harder to handle?

It is hard to find a logical answer with google searches as each circumstance is different.

Any help would be very appreciated.
Cheers.
 

CherylCali

Active member
Jun 22, 2016
458
118
Victoria, Texas
Parrots
Early Bird Green Cheek Conure
Hatch Date 3-2016
The first thing I wonder is it when he's on his cage that you attempt to offer a finger to step up when he bites? Does he behave differently when he isn't on his cage?

CherylCali
 
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CloverS13

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Sep 6, 2016
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Kakariki
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He does this wherever he is, not just on the cage. He allows me to clean it with no fuss, as well as change his dishes with him both being in or out. He doesn't even have to be in the same room for me to get bitten when attempting to hop on.
 

CherylCali

Active member
Jun 22, 2016
458
118
Victoria, Texas
Parrots
Early Bird Green Cheek Conure
Hatch Date 3-2016
Is it possible that when you're asking for a step up that you're interrupting what he wants to do? Even if it is sit still on your lap? It may be that you have to take step up training back to the very beginning. Use a perch until stepping up and down are mastered. Always say UP or Step Up, and continue using the command even when the behavior is learned. If the bird were in danger you would have to depend on his trust and obedience to move him to safety. Therefore we always have to reinforce the command to step up. My viewpoint is step ups are non negotiables.

CherylCali
 

GaleriaGila

Supporting Member
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May 14, 2016
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Cleveland area
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The Rickeybird, 38-year-old Patagonian Conure
Ever since Rbird hit maturity (2-3 years of age) he has been a handful, and a frequent biter.
Birds vary so much between species and WITHIN species, but I think I just sorta got a... well... handfull. TWO hands full.
But...
I have reduced biting to almost zero over the decades... not because I've changed the bird, but I have changed me. And a lot of that has involved giving up on a lot of my desires/expectations. After years of battle, I surrendered. I don't do stuff that gets me bitten. I don't scratch his head much, ever... tail is okay, go figure. I NEVER do stuff that makes him mad... I don't touch others when he's out; I rarely try to get him to step up onto my hand first. Hand-held perch first, then hand. In some ways, I swallow my disappointment at having such a little Genghis Khan for a pet, but he is what he is. I ALWAYS wear my hair down when he's on my shoulder, so all he can bite is hair. So I guess what I'm saying is... wherever the dust settles... after you have followed all the best advice... please let it be okay. Don't do stuff that gets you bitten... take whatever ridiculous precautions needed and just love your little maniac.
Do listen to and try all the great advice you'll get here. Don't surrender until you know you've done your best. Then just accept it, is what I'm trying to say.

I don't mean to sound like a voice of defeat, just a voice of realization that I have on my shoulder right now a little creature who is one generation out of the wilds of Patagonia.

Good luck. I'm glad you're here!

We have some kakariki owners here who may have species-specific insight, too!
 

Notdumasilook

New member
Jul 28, 2015
539
5
Charlotte, NC
Parrots
Blue Fronted Amazon, Cookie..Sun Conure..lil Booger (RIP) Have owned Parakeets, lovebirds, cockatiels, cockatoos, pocket parrot, and quakers.
First investment you need to make is in a T-perch. Don't worry about buying one if you have a a few basic tools and something like an old broom handle. Make the perch in the shape of a T with the bottom portion being of course for you hands. Rarely will a bird climb down a T perch to bite you. Second.. you are probably teaching your bird to bite.. by accident of course. IF you end up withdrawing from from some interaction because he bites he figures he can train you.. not the other way around.
So now go back to the "step up" training using the T perch instead of a finger. Give him the command "up" or whatever word you wanna use and get insist he gets on the perch. If/when he does that reward him with praise and/or a treat he likes. Shouldn't take long and he should start doing this rather easily. Note that your bird probably does not know the meaning of the word "no".. which I always teach my birds first thing.. which involves a brief restraint and a finger wag and a verbal NO. I find that's quick easy and safe and gets the point across.
After the T perch training for a few days.. time to graduate the bird. Instead of just a finger use the whole hand or your forearm. Instead of sticking it up in front of him inviting a bite try more of a slow gentle sweep to his body just above his legs using the same command. Fingers crossed he goes for it out of habit...and of course praise/treats should come when he does what you want. As far as disciplining a bird.. Ive really never tried to "punish" a bird... more I concentrate on communication with them in ways they understand... Vocally/gestures/touch is how they interact/communicate with each other so I use what comes natural to them. I know it can be frustrating at times, but seriously.. punishing a critter that's hardwired with so many instinctive behaviors (that we as humans barely understand) is the wrong road to take IMHO and totally ruins trust.
 
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CloverS13

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Sep 6, 2016
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Parrots
Kakariki
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Firstly, thank you everyone for your wonderful advice and tips.

I have taken him back to basics of hop on, back to the perch (better that then my fingers, and it does not flinch when he bites it, which I agree, I sadly did more than once). He is being incredibly stubborn and refusing to hop on nearly every time, finally giving up and placing one foot on the perch and repeating to me the only words that he knows "hop on" (Oh the irony). So far I am into just day two, so I will take it slower this time with him, before I attempt anything else.

Although this evening I was playing with a toy of his, dunking it into his bath (just a dish on the floor) and he got so excited and was so overwhelmed by it simply being splashed about that he insisted in bathing with it, and not shy, or aggressive towards my hands at all. (I have decided I will never understand what goes on inside his head).

I have a few old brooms hanging around which will do nicely for this T-perch idea. He has not run down the perch to bite yet, but he seems to be full of sass, I'm sure it won't take him long to figure it out.

So far the little time that I have owned him, it has been quite the roller coaster ride. It's nice seeing what others are going through, that it makes me actually keen for working with him each day. He does not cease to amaze me, and I most definitely will love my little maniac (very fitting choice of words there).

Tomorrow is yet another day!
 

Notdumasilook

New member
Jul 28, 2015
539
5
Charlotte, NC
Parrots
Blue Fronted Amazon, Cookie..Sun Conure..lil Booger (RIP) Have owned Parakeets, lovebirds, cockatiels, cockatoos, pocket parrot, and quakers.
Well best of luck. Note Im not at all familiar with your species of bird there and all seem to have lil quirks hardwired in them that are species specific. Also, not sure where your read that biting is not normal behavior for a parrot? That is BS. Its very normal.. even in wild birds so don't fault yourself for that. There are lots of reasons a bird bites and various triggers.. the key is to figure out those triggers... bottom line, know your bird. You should be able to get your bird to "hop on" with out needing a medic. Even with my lil sweet youngins.. I can get bit IF I don't pay attention to their mood at the moment. The sweetest bird I have is Booger.. but when I "rescued" him he had be actually "trained to bite" by his clueless previous owners when he wanted to play. Took a lil effort to break him of an "ear chomp" every time he got on our shoulders. Sounds to me like you are getting a "protest bite".. where hes telling you he don't wanna get on your finger... for what particular reason, who knows.. but its not that uncommon. Along with the "hop on" lessons he needs to learn the meaning of "no".. so just make the effort to teach him both. Do NOT forget the gesture.. like a "finger wag". Both of my birds know what No means, and a simple fingerwag now is enuff to stop them in their tracks on about anything they are up to.. like chewing an electric cord or eating my tennis shoe etc.
 

LeaKP

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Aug 11, 2014
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Congo African Grey
I think you will get through this just fine. He's pushing boundaries like any small child would do. Stay the course! Good luck!
 

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