Three year old Sunny over-protection/ screaming PLEASE HELP!

Abbi.Tia

New member
Apr 23, 2020
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Tia- two year old spoiled Sunny
Olive- green budgie (RIP)
Hey y'all!
I have a three year oldSunny, whom we say is a girl but in all honesty have no clue what her gender is. I hand raised her and she used to be super sweet and friendly to everyone. And then she hit puberty and that all changed. Her screaming started when she learned to mimic the microwave, since that always preceded her being fed, and now she does it when she's overstimulated, wanting attention, unhappy, angry, or scared. Or sometimes for no apparent reason. She won't let anyone but my mom near me when she's out of the cage, and when she is out and other people are around, she will fluff up, start saying back and forth, and then fly at the person's face and try to bite the snot out of them. This is with people who don't live in our house. She's a little better with my younger sister and brother. I know that she's viewing them as a threat, but how do I get her to stop?!?!??! Any help will be greatly appreciated!
 

Emeral

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2021
128
269
Parrots
Hanhs Macaw
Hey y'all!
I have a three year oldSunny, whom we say is a girl but in all honesty have no clue what her gender is. I hand raised her and she used to be super sweet and friendly to everyone. And then she hit puberty and that all changed. Her screaming started when she learned to mimic the microwave, since that always preceded her being fed, and now she does it when she's overstimulated, wanting attention, unhappy, angry, or scared. Or sometimes for no apparent reason. She won't let anyone but my mom near me when she's out of the cage, and when she is out and other people are around, she will fluff up, start saying back and forth, and then fly at the person's face and try to bite the snot out of them. This is with people who don't live in our house. She's a little better with my younger sister and brother. I know that she's viewing them as a threat, but how do I get her to stop?!?!??! Any help will be greatly appreciated!
My emerald, a spoiled hanhs macaw, also scream at strangers. She does so less after we bought her with us more often. To the supermarket, to the park, to the beach, out for a walk in the neighborhood...etc. (And when some people give compliment....she just thought she is a movie star.)
 
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Abbi.Tia

New member
Apr 23, 2020
10
Media
2
3
Alexander, NC
Parrots
Tia- two year old spoiled Sunny
Olive- green budgie (RIP)
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #3
I also wanted to ask if anyone knew how to help her get used to her harness so I can take her out more and safely. She absolutely hates it with a passion
 
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Abbi.Tia

New member
Apr 23, 2020
10
Media
2
3
Alexander, NC
Parrots
Tia- two year old spoiled Sunny
Olive- green budgie (RIP)
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #4
Would having her cage in a more trafficked area help with some of this? Right now she's upstairs, between me and my sister's rooms.
 

fiddlejen

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Mar 28, 2019
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Sunny the Sun Conure (sept '18, gotcha 3/'19). Mr Jefferson Budgie & Mrs Calliope Budgie (albino) (nov'18 & jan'19). Summer 2021 Baby Budgies: Riker (Green); Patchouli, Keye, & Tiny (blue greywings).
Hi Abbi, and welcome to the forum! My Sunny is also three years old, as of a few days ago actually, and some of my advice might come from IN-experience, as she might have just not hit the particular age of yours...

That said. First of all hormones. There are many posts by many others on this forum about avoiding hormonal triggers. I would assume this is gonna be the biggest problem. SO. No petting or touching below the neck. Anywhere at all.

Now my own Sunny, has just gotten to a point where I have to be very attentive about this. She likes me to put my hand out for her to LEAN again while she preens. IF she Only Leans, that is okay. Leans and Preens, is okay. BUT, If she starts moving in a way that causes her to Rub again my hand.... No. No, cannot allow that. Likewise, If she sits on my shoulder and Leans against my chin & neck -- okay. BUT if she is Moving around while leaning against me... that is a BIG NO NO.

Currently, if I allow any sort of motion that would approximate rubbing or petting of body feathers, she is gonna go into what I think of as "COBRA MODE." She *fluffs significantly more than usual... sways slowly, like a cobra... and if I let it continue, she will STRIKE. (I work hard to prevent this. I do not want her to "learn" biting as part of her behavioral repertoire.)
*Please remember, normally a fluffy bird is a Happy bird. The problem here is just hormones... it's a Different Kind of Happy that, only in this case!, we don't want to encourage. Hormone-Happy certainly can lead to biting behavior, so only in this case, we don't want This Kind of happy....

Other hormonal triggers are allowing access to nesting materials or dark shadowy spaces. My own Sunny's current hormonal behaviors started when, while lining the budgies' nest with wood shavings, I noticed Sunny wanted to play with them. I gave her a pile... for toys, I was thinking... and, within a few days I had cobra behavior, yelling, and a bite. Apparently wood shavings look like nesting material! Also no hidey huts, nothing to climb inside of, and nothing that might resemble a nice place for a nest.

More hormonal triggers: long days. Your bird needs 10 hours of sleep, in quiet and darkness, daily. 12 hours is great too. Less than 10 hours => grumpiness=> yelling, biting, aggressive & inconsistent behavior.

Others have written extensively on this forum about hormonal triggers, i strongly recommend doing the search and reading about them.
 
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fiddlejen

Supporting Member
Mar 28, 2019
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753
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Sunny the Sun Conure (sept '18, gotcha 3/'19). Mr Jefferson Budgie & Mrs Calliope Budgie (albino) (nov'18 & jan'19). Summer 2021 Baby Budgies: Riker (Green); Patchouli, Keye, & Tiny (blue greywings).
Okay part 2 of my reply.

QUIETNESS GAME. This is something I started early on with my Sunny. It is based on behavior modification training... I think you can look that up under ABA training or maybe ABC training.... BUT with variation. So basically, the idea here is to TEACH your birdie a TRICK, and the trick is How To Be Quiet. You are adding "Be Quiet" to their behavioral repertoire. The Way this trick works, is that it is based on the fact that birds are very emotional creatures, and they like attention. And they do Not like when you turn your back to them.

You will want to practice the Quietness Game alone with your parrot in your own room. After she "Gets It," then other family members can also practice this game with her, when she is with the family.

I tend to think of the Game as being like the "Stop And Go" childhood game. One child held up a sign, one side had the word GO in green, the other side had the word STOP in red. When the sign said "Go" all the children rush forward across the playground, but had to STOP whenever the sign was spun around. If you keep moving, you're Out. (Teacher was referee, of course.) Winner was first child to reach the one holding sign. (Then got to be the sign holder for next round.)

So, for the Quietness Game: Even a MOMENT of silence, is the GO sign. BUT, any yell or screech or other Loud Noise... is a STOP sign. This is how it works:

--Birdie clearly wants attention. Bird is making NOISE for attention. You respond by Turning your Back and Moving Away, to opposite side of the room. Preferably holding a favorite treat. ( In the game of Stop and Go, the goal is to reach the person.) You will go to opposite side of room and start with your back to bird. AT the BEGINning, even One INSTANT of Quietness is enough for you to turn toward bird (treat clearly visible!) and start to approach (step by small step). SOFT SOUNDS are Also Okay. BUT the moment a LOUD noise occurs, you must IMMEDIATLY Turn your BACK and "freeze". (Keeping the treat visible is a good idea...)

--After freezing, IF bird can't figure out to be quiet again for a moment, you might try making Soft Sounds at bird for a clue. IF needed, to clue the bird, you can look over your shoulder making Soft Sounds, until the bird gets a little quiet.

--Using this "Stop And Go" method, YOUR GOAL is to move yourself to the Bird and Deliver the Treat. HOWEVEFR YOU can ONLY MOVE at moments of QUIETNESS or Soft Sounds. (YOU or whoever is playing this game with the bird.) Eventually you lengthen the Time of quietness required for you to move. Your bird will probably catch on to this quickly. Bird will like this because YOU are the PLAYER, bird Controls Your Action by being quiet. (Remember birds are control-freaks. They like to be in-charge. So Bird will LIke this game, once bird figures it out.)

--This will help train the bird to quietness --- AND it will help train You and Your Family Members (who will eventually all learn to play this game) -- to Reward Quietness More Than Noisiness.

Also, initiate the Stop-Go-Game at times when bird is already quiet or making Soft Sounds - but do NOT turn your Back Until OR Unless Bird makes a LOUD noise. This will give bird incentive to be more Quiet as a form of begging-behavior. (Birds Understand the body-language of Back Turned = not happy. In fact if bird turns back to you it Might mean same thing!)

Also work on things like singing softly to bird etc so Bird can LEarn Nice Soft Sounds.
 

fiddlejen

Supporting Member
Mar 28, 2019
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Sunny the Sun Conure (sept '18, gotcha 3/'19). Mr Jefferson Budgie & Mrs Calliope Budgie (albino) (nov'18 & jan'19). Summer 2021 Baby Budgies: Riker (Green); Patchouli, Keye, & Tiny (blue greywings).
You might also want to work on target training. Specifically, I recommend buying a book on target training and reading it. I did this with my Sunny at the beginning. She originally could not perch well and could not step up, due to a non-working toe. I used target training to teach her. I haven't really continued with it, but, one of the things it's good for is teaching both you and your parrot to communicate well with each other. When there is a lot of biting going on, it can be Partially due to a parrot feeling frustrated over lack of communication. Remember, your bird is In Charge, and it needs to know that you (and everyone else) understand this.
 

fiddlejen

Supporting Member
Mar 28, 2019
1,156
Media
11
753
New England
Parrots
Sunny the Sun Conure (sept '18, gotcha 3/'19). Mr Jefferson Budgie & Mrs Calliope Budgie (albino) (nov'18 & jan'19). Summer 2021 Baby Budgies: Riker (Green); Patchouli, Keye, & Tiny (blue greywings).
And. On to biting. I have had Great Success with my Sunny with Bite Pressure Training. Again, I think hormones are a huge part of what you are dealing with, and you may need to get past the hormones before you can work on bite pressure training. I mean, if my Sunny goes into Cobra mode, the Only thing to do is Gently Withdraw, and move her back to her cage if she's out.

There are some other methods for teaching No Bite to a bird that is flying around attacking people. I cannot speak to those. I assume it's due to her first 1 1/2 years of bad clip => crashes, broken feathers => more clips, but whatever the reason, although my Sunny can and does fly, she is not very independent, and flying to attack anyone, is currently Not in her repertoire. So others must advise how to deal with an actual flying-to-attack bird.

However. Setting aside hormonal flying attacks or cobra attacks. I have done "Bite Pressure Training" with my Sunny since she was young. Basically, when she is relaxed and calm - so, often at bedtime - I offer a beak rub, with a little bit of gentle beak-play. She enjoys this. IF she bites back, I will say "Be Gentle," and withdraw my hand... Momentarily. Then give back my hand and start over. Oh, but GENTLE biting is fine. Remember, they don't have hands; they use their beaks to preen and to explore the world. IF she wants to help you by removing the pinfeathers from the end of your fingers, just explain those are not feathers, they are your claws and should not be removed. :) So do this at other times also. Let your bird play with, and enjoy playing with, your fingers. GENTLE chewing is allowed... this is Usually preening. WHEN your bird bites uncomfortably hard, you say BE GENTLE and withdraw your hand. Three chances and the game is over. If the bird is enjoying the playing, then bird will Quickly learn.

If birds are in a flock, they will preen each other, and they Will correct each other when biting too hard. In most cases you do not want a big reaction when biting occurs, because any big response can reinforce the behavior. The Best response for bird-learning is for the bird to see that, "Something I was enjoying has suddenly stopped, now everything is BORING, i wonder why."

Nowadays, Sunny rarely bites me, and never without a good reason. (Except for two COBRA attacks, after I gave her those shavings to chew, so that was my fault!) IF she bites me, like she just got excited while we were playing and chewed too hard, I say "Be Gentle," and take my hand away, and it doesn't happen again for months. IF she bites me otherwise, I always check for the reason, and there always is one.

I hope some of this is helpful. Again, I do Not have to deal with a flying attacking bird, but there are many threads in the forum dealing with exactly that, as well, so i hope they may be helpful to you.
 

Emeral

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2021
128
269
Parrots
Hanhs Macaw
Hey y'all!
I have a three year oldSunny, whom we say is a girl but in all honesty have no clue what her gender is. I hand raised her and she used to be super sweet and friendly to everyone. And then she hit puberty and that all changed. Her screaming started when she learned to mimic the microwave, since that always preceded her being fed, and now she does it when she's overstimulated, wanting attention, unhappy, angry, or scared. Or sometimes for no apparent reason. She won't let anyone but my mom near me when she's out of the cage, and when she is out and other people are around, she will fluff up, start saying back and forth, and then fly at the person's face and try to bite the snot out of them. This is with people who don't live in our house. She's a little better with my younger sister and brother. I know that she's viewing them as a threat, but how do I get her to stop?!?!??! Any help will be greatly appreciated!
.....the mentioned of screaming, which started when she learned to mimic the microwave, increased to when she's overstimulated, wanting attention, unhappy, angry, or scared. Or sometimes for no apparent reason.

I think this may have caused from either "What you permit, you promote." Or she is rewarded in some way after screaming. (Be it attention or treat) So rewarding she must do more of it. This was the case with my emeral, she used to get macaw loud and then louder.

Here is how we did it.......
1) Our family have her cage on wheel, in the middle of the common area and kitchen, ready to wheel to maximum interaction with everyone. The one she is afraid of must go about for her to get used to the most.

2) Make sure she understood common commands like no and good girl. So when she start to scream I told her no with a hand gesture and make a dislike face to her and then ignored her for 5minutes. (Or 10 if she was lounder than a 5) And while she is quiet, go back to her with a smile and praise her, play with her as though we were never parted.

3) Be persistent.

4) Every one all ignore her scream and only approach when she is silent.

After this United family strategy, Emerald no longer scream for no reason. And she is ever more loved.
 

Emeral

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2021
128
269
Parrots
Hanhs Macaw
You also mentioned that
.......she won't let anyone but your mom near you and also fluff up, swaying back and forth, and trying to bite people.

To me, this suggested that she had chosen her favorites and learn to be possessive. To get her to stop, I would use the same tactic as above. To make sure she knows what is liked Vs disliked. Or what is acceptable Vs unacceptable. All you have to do is to tell her. she understands.

Meanwhile, let's give her time to learn that those she fear, will not or is unable to harm her. So she must be able to feel safe by watching from a distance. That is, from the safety of her cage. Or if you are taking her outside, preferably, in a backpack bubble with only one viewing side. So she knows her back and above angle is protected. This should help her to step by step, form a new understanding and a harmonious friendship with everyone.

Emerald loves going out in her backpack bubble bird carrier, flew to stand on top to wait to go outside. It comes with a perch inside, the front side is transparent for the view and the rest is opaque for her to feel safe. (But at the beginning, we hang it opened for a curious bird to climb in to inspect.)

As for the harness, she loves this more than her travelling bubble. But harness takes longer to practice and bring in new challenges. To name a few, she is able to professionally open many locks. And when she can't open it, she cut it clean. Emeralda, the destroyer, also sometimes, cut and trim shirt and buttons and necklaces near by, free of charge. So I can only imagine the worst for happy and surprising shoulders of strangers she flew to!!!

After her screaming stop, I would recommend a bubble travelling case for sunny right away. (Not before, cos we don't want her to get more attention from her scream) and since harness practice takes time, start getting her used to it asap but only expect this as a long term solution.

Good luck
 

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