Sweet conure turned aggressive, help !

Gryff

New member
Nov 30, 2021
6
10
Parrots
Waddles(cockatiel)
I’ve had my green cheek conure for a couple years now and he is very bonded to me and sweet and cuddly, but recently he will randomly attack my face with extreme force, biting me hard and making me bleed. I am considering rehoming him if this can’t be fixed, because I leave him in his cage whenever I am home now most days simply because I’m scared to be around him now.
I am trying to figure out why he is doing this and how to correct the behavior but I am really stumped here.
I got him as a baby and though he was a little nippy at first, i got him to stop biting me and we were inseparable for a long time, I taught him to give me kisses which is what I think triggered his new behavior. Now, we will be hanging out together as usual and I’ll be petting him (no signs of aggression at all), and he will randomly and very quickly bite into my mouth very hard and won’t let go until I pry him off. This is very painful and it’s starting to become more, the other day he attacked me as I was walking into my house; he flew at my face and bit my neck very hard and made me bleed. I always wrap him in a towel or my sleeve/shirt immediately and put him into his cage when this happens. I am really at the end of my patience with this since it’s been going on for a couple months now. I thought that immediately putting him into his cage would deter him but it’s only getting worse. Has anyone else experienced this? This is so upsetting for me because we used to do everything together and now I don’t even feel comfortable napping while he is free in the house.
 

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Biting, whether intentional or not, just over preening your skin or actually taking chunks of meat out - all are PAINFULL! In the wild that sort of behavior is not tolerated by the flock. They ostracize flock members who continue to act like that. We call it 'Shunning'. This WILL work, but needs to be done correctly to get the message across and it needs to be done IMMEDIATELY so the parrot can associate the bite with the shunning action. And it needs to happen every time and with anyone involved with the parrot.

When the bite or over preening occurs:

  • Say in a forceful but not shouting voice "No Bite" or other endearments.
  • Immediately place the parrot on a nearby, handy chairback. NOT the cage (that would only teach the parrot to bite when he wants to go back to his cage).
  • Turn your back to him and ignore him for 1 minute. No peeking, no talking about or too him, NADA. NO eye contact. No less or the message is lost, no more or the bird will not associate the action with the bite.
  • After a minute you can try to re-establish contact.
Rinse, repeat as needed. Most parrots get the message after a few times, some may need more. Also very important - make sure the bite is not your fault. Annoying your parrot, asking him to step up when he is otherwise preoccupied with eating or playing, bothering him during known moody times like mating season, or ignoring the warnings and body language of your parrot - these are bites that you deserve! Learn, and be a better parront !!
 
I would just add that hormones may be the culprit, as well as there needs to be some training as wrench13 has described. Your bird is young--a bit too old for this to be puberty, but it could be that you squeaked past puberty with no issues and now you're having your first truly gnarly hormone season.

Hormones are temporary, but can definitely cause birds to transform into something we don't recognize!! And your behavior may be contributing. Here's some tips:
  • Sleep: birds should get 10-12 hours (the longer the better during hormone season) of uninterrupted sleep, in relative darkness and quiet. For a lot of folks this means covering the cage for 12 hours. If your bird is in his own room, you can get away with simply closing the door to give him some privacy. If he's in the living room, it's a fairly common practice for people to have a separate "sleep cage" in a bedroom or isolated room so that their bird can check out and sleep at 8PM but they can keep watching netflix. Whatever works.
  • Food: food with lower levels of fat and sugar seems to help with hormones. If you feed a seed mix, slowly transitioning to pellets and fresh food/chop may help. If your fresh food/chop typically has a lot of fruit or veggies high in sugar like corn, cutting back on those in favor of lower sugar veggies may help. Also, if you typically share table food, it's best to serve everything at room temp during hormone season, rather than sharing it while warm.
  • No nooks: if you have anything in the cage (a sleep hut, a nest box, a basket) that is a dark "nook," get rid of it. Likewise, if your bird tends to gravitate toward any dark places while out of the cage, like your dresser or under furniture, block those places off. This simulates nesting and will jack up hormones by a LOT. I do want to say though, my jenday used a sleep hut for years with no issue, and removing it for safety always caused her a lot of stress, so observe first before removing anything... if he's truly just sleeping somewhere, there's no need to take it away in my opinion, it's only if he acts like he's nesting in there. That's just my personal opinion though, a lot on this forum are very anti-sleep hut in general for hormone and safety reasons which I understand as well, so there's no wrong answer imo.
  • Monitor toy usage: mirrors are a common cause for mental stress and high hormones because birds interpret the reflection as their mate... so, if you have a mirror, removing it is probably best. Other than that, there's no specific toys that cause high hormones, but I've had some birds who will get so frustrated that they start using toys and perches to rub their butt on, and letting them do that will definitely bring up their hormone levels, so removing any perches or toys that they "like too much" is important.
 
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I would just add that hormones may be the culprit, as well as there needs to be some training as wrench13 has described. Your bird is young--a bit too old for this to be puberty, but it could be that you squeaked past puberty with no issues and now you're having your first truly gnarly hormone season.

Hormones are temporary, but can definitely cause birds to transform into something we don't recognize!! And your behavior may be contributing. Here's some tips:
  • Sleep: birds should get 10-12 hours (the longer the better during hormone season) of uninterrupted sleep, in relative darkness and quiet. For a lot of folks this means covering the cage for 12 hours. If your bird is in his own room, you can get away with simply closing the door to give him some privacy. If he's in the living room, it's a fairly common practice for people to have a separate "sleep cage" in a bedroom or isolated room so that their bird can check out and sleep at 8PM but they can keep watching netflix. Whatever works.
  • Food: food with lower levels of fat and sugar seems to help with hormones. If you feed a seed mix, slowly transitioning to pellets and fresh food/chop may help. If your fresh food/chop typically has a lot of fruit or veggies high in sugar like corn, cutting back on those in favor of lower sugar veggies may help. Also, if you typically share table food, it's best to serve everything at room temp during hormone season, rather than sharing it while warm.
  • No nooks: if you have anything in the cage (a sleep hut, a nest box, a basket) that is a dark "nook," get rid of it. Likewise, if your bird tends to gravitate toward any dark places while out of the cage, like your dresser or under furniture, block those places off. This simulates nesting and will jack up hormones by a LOT. I do want to say though, my jenday used a sleep hut for years with no issue, and removing it for safety always caused her a lot of stress, so observe first before removing anything... if he's truly just sleeping somewhere, there's no need to take it away in my opinion, it's only if he acts like he's nesting in there. That's just my personal opinion though, a lot on this forum are very anti-sleep hut in general for hormone and safety reasons which I understand as well, so there's no wrong answer imo.
  • Monitor toy usage: mirrors are a common cause for mental stress and high hormones because birds interpret the reflection as their mate... so, if you have a mirror, removing it is probably best. Other than that, there's no specific toys that cause high hormones, but I've had some birds who will get so frustrated that they start using toys and perches to rub their butt on, and letting them do that will definitely bring up their hormone levels, so removing any perches or toys that they "like too much" is important.
This helped a lot, thank you! I think hormones are probably the issue here, I’ve noticed that he is trying to rub his butt on me a lot recently, I’ll definitely implement your suggestions.
 
Agree that with his age it is likely hormones!
 

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