Tips on preventing further bonding?

Clynne

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May 4, 2021
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A little back story...

My husband and I got 2 green cheek conures about a month ago. They are both close to 4 months old. We aren't sure if they're siblings or not, but they came from the same place, at the same time. Since getting them, we've had them DNA sexed, and it turns out that one's a male, and one's a female. They are definitely pretty crazy about each other, and seem more interested in playing together than spending time with us. We do spend some one-on-one time with them, and they do okay with it. They're not nearly as goofy or playful when they're without the other one, but they don't seem miserable, either. They are in separate cages, but their cages are right next to each other.

How should we go about preventing them bonding more closely with one another? We are afraid that they will bond so closely to each other, that they'll want little/nothing to do with us.

Should we limit how much time they have out together, and try to spend more time with them one-on-one? Or would doing so make them even more inseparable once they do get out together?

Should we put their cages in 2 separate rooms, or would that make them depressed since they've already been side by side for a month?

Is it possible that the more they're out playing together, they might kind of "get over" each other, and be more inviting/accepting of human interaction?

They are fairly friendly, and we've been working on tricks and training with them. They were rather timid when we first brought them home, and have definitely warmed up to us quite a bit since then. I have to admit though, that I am kind of surprised at how cautious they still are at times. I'm also wondering if that could possibly be because they've got each other, whereas a single bird maybe wouldn't be as reluctant to warm up to people?

I should add, since we've gotten them, we've taught them to step up, shake, give kisses, and we've done a little bit of target training. The training sessions are during one-on-one time, otherwise it would have been incredibly hard, with how into each other they are. There are times that one will go onto my finger, while the other one will go onto my husband's finger and hang out for a little bit. They usually end up flying over to the other one before too long though. Also, when I try to rub the female's head, the male will usually try to bite me. He doesn't seem to like me trying to do things with her when they're out together. I guess they're not completely inseparable, just MOSTLY inseparable? Lol

Do you think that maybe they just need more time in general to settle in and get used to us more? Maybe that would help them loosen up enough to not just seek each other out so much? Or do you think that it's more likely due to them being bonded (if they even are fully bonded yet)?

Thanks in advance for reading all of this. I know that it's lengthy and kind of all over the place. Sorry about that, and sorry for all of the questions. I've just got so many thoughts about how we could possibly try and approach things with them, but I also don't want to stress them out or make them become depressed if we go about things the wrong way. Any advice is very much appreciated!
 
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Skarila

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Don't apologize for the story! The more info the better!

I have a similar issue with mine, he came from an aviary and is just glued to our budgie all the time, so during day while we are working we separate them into two rooms, my partner spends his day with the budgie, and i let out Pascal (the conure) to hang out with me instead. He is very hand shy but I target trained him, sometimes will step up for a treat and will accept a kiss on the beak which is nice.
One month is a very short period, ofcourse the birds are far more comfortable with one another, and your goal should be is to become the part of the flock. I am familiar with the situation where if I have Pascal's attention it goes away in a second if my budgie is in the same room and starts flying or when she contact calls from another room. I usually try to play louder music in the room where Pascal is to mute the contact calls between the birds.
However Pascal will shout more often if they are separated, that's for sure.
Only thing I can suggest is to keep giving them one on one and give them treats when they are together. I believe they will always preffer one another's company rather a human one, unless it's one on one. Pascal is such an angel when I am alone with him, he is willing more to step up or these days play with me. Little stinker loves me to fetch his small ball with the bell, he always drops it on purpose, lol.

I guess only time will tell, sorry I don't have better suggestions. Since they are so young, it is hard to tell what might happen once they mature. But surely give them more time, keep training them, and try to have the one on one as often as possible. Oh, and just keep bribing them with treats!
I am super lucky that both me and my partner work from home and that we can spend so much time with our birds separately, hard to imagine what would be if I couldn't spend so much time alone with him. I also have him for just a month, however we have the rescue budgie for 7 years now, only in last few years she bonded to us and loves to fly to us. We try to show Pascal also that shoulders aren't so scary, but it seems such a long way to get to that point!
 
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Clynne

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Don't apologize for the story! The more info the better!

I have a similar issue with mine, he came from an aviary and is just glued to our budgie all the time, so during day while we are working we separate them into two rooms, my partner spends his day with the budgie, and i let out Pascal (the conure) to hang out with me instead. He is very hand shy but I target trained him, sometimes will step up for a treat and will accept a kiss on the beak which is nice.
One month is a very short period, ofcourse the birds are far more comfortable with one another, and your goal should be is to become the part of the flock. I am familiar with the situation where if I have Pascal's attention it goes away in a second if my budgie is in the same room and starts flying or when she contact calls from another room. I usually try to play louder music in the room where Pascal is to mute the contact calls between the birds.
However Pascal will shout more often if they are separated, that's for sure.
Only thing I can suggest is to keep giving them one on one and give them treats when they are together. I believe they will always preffer one another's company rather a human one, unless it's one on one. Pascal is such an angel when I am alone with him, he is willing more to step up or these days play with me. Little stinker loves me to fetch his small ball with the bell, he always drops it on purpose, lol.

I guess only time will tell, sorry I don't have better suggestions. Since they are so young, it is hard to tell what might happen once they mature. But surely give them more time, keep training them, and try to have the one on one as often as possible. Oh, and just keep bribing them with treats!
I am super lucky that both me and my partner work from home and that we can spend so much time with our birds separately, hard to imagine what would be if I couldn't spend so much time alone with him. I also have him for just a month, however we have the rescue budgie for 7 years now, only in last few years she bonded to us and loves to fly to us. We try to show Pascal also that shoulders aren't so scary, but it seems such a long way to get to that point!

Thank you for sharing your experience with me, and what you do to try and work through it! I appreciate the insight! I think that that's what we'll start doing too, spending as much time as possible with each of them alone. It definitely wouldn't hurt, and it may be just what they need to really start getting closer with us as well. Thanks again! :)
 

SailBoat

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It is one of the realities of have multiple parrots. The very old saying of: Birds of a feather, tend to flock together, is a reality! Now, they can for any number of reasons, not want a strong relationship with each other. Just understand the greater your efforts in causing them not to like each other will like not work out well. Best laid plans and all of that.

Maximize your time with them targeting a family like thing will at least keep it fun for everyone.
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
They may try to mate in the future (based on their gender and current bond) which is another big problem, as 1) breeding is super complicated and not something anyone should attempt without a lot of experience/equipment/training etc and 2) if they are siblings, the genetic issues those babies could have are major. Plus, babies of these babies could mate as well (once mature), so all of the offspring would potentially face the same problem, next generation in your home.


They haven't reached sexual maturity, but will around 1 or 2...In the meantime, I would definitely remove all tents/huts/boxes and access to shadowy spaces (such as in tubes, hampers, coconuts, cartons, under furniture etc) as such spaces are hormonal triggers. Also, if you have any nest-like structures in the cage, remove those as well. You want to discourage getting them in the mood to reproduce. The female does not always produce eggs if the conditions are unfavorable.



Pet on the head and neck only when you handle them (unless it's brief for medical/husbandry).



Ensure 10 hours sleep on a schedule-- too little sleep can mess with hormones and increase breeding behavior as well.



When you interact with them separately, are you doing it in the same room with the other bird?
 

Laurasea

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This is such a complex issue to talk about. A bond is a very special thing .

What works for me, and is the advice I read from Pamela Clark licensed parrot behavior expert. Is too cage them separately but side by side. Let them out together, and allow them to be together during the day, but seperate cages at night.

When I have bonded birds I just have them both with me at once. Birds are pretty hard wired yo stay next to their bond mate.

So instead of forcing one to be with each of you, trade off having both on each one of you. Sort of a package deal.

This package of 2 is a unit now. I could still do little training sessions, one on a stand and one on the table in front of me. But the 2 not far apart like inches to a foot or so.

If you and your husband sit side by side on the couch you can pass both of the birds bsck and forth and share treats, sort of like a doubles date .

Your two GCC are exhibit totally natural behavior, and are going to be happier in the long run.

Except during breeding season they should not loose their bond and affection with you. Breeding season depending on a lot of factors you might see guarding of each other, or of territory. Do not provide any nest bixs or allow yo hide under cushion or under furniture. They may try to protect their cage ( with bites) but be fine once away from the cage.

So have a perch on the door if that type so when swings out they are out if cage. Or hsve some on the outside if cage near the door or both. Start teaching tgrm now to target there fo treat sbd step up. Will do reduce the stress and drama down the road.
 
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Clynne

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They may try to mate in the future (based on their gender and current bond) which is another big problem, as 1) breeding is super complicated and not something anyone should attempt without a lot of experience/equipment/training etc and 2) if they are siblings, the genetic issues those babies could have are major. Plus, babies of these babies could mate as well (once mature), so all of the offspring would potentially face the same problem, next generation in your home.


They haven't reached sexual maturity, but will around 1 or 2...In the meantime, I would definitely remove all tents/huts/boxes and access to shadowy spaces (such as in tubes, hampers, coconuts, cartons, under furniture etc) as such spaces are hormonal triggers. Also, if you have any nest-like structures in the cage, remove those as well. You want to discourage getting them in the mood to reproduce. The female does not always produce eggs if the conditions are unfavorable.



Pet on the head and neck only when you handle them (unless it's brief for medical/husbandry).



Ensure 10 hours sleep on a schedule-- too little sleep can mess with hormones and increase breeding behavior as well.



When you interact with them separately, are you doing it in the same room with the other bird?

Thanks for the info! When we do the one on one training, we've been doing it in a separate area. We do it that way because we feel bad for the one that remains in the cage, but also because even when it's just one of them out, they climb all over the other's cage and are still totally distracted by them. Would it be helpful to try and do the training in front of the other one though? We would be willing to try that if it could help.

Regarding the breeding concern, that's something that we're trying to avoid at all costs. All of the info I've stumbled across pertaining to breeding would make me very leary of ever trying, even if I wanted to do it (which I don't). I'm convinced that that's something that should be left to the professionals only. And like you mentioned, without knowing if they're siblings or not definitely makes that something that I would never encourage or try and make happen. We don't have anything in their cages that I can think of that might trigger any kind of nesting, aside from some foraging toys that have the paper Easter grass type of stuff. Should I remove that from their cages? From the female's cage only, or from the male's cage as well?
 
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Clynne

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It is one of the realities of have multiple parrots. The very old saying of: Birds of a feather, tend to flock together, is a reality! Now, they can for any number of reasons, not want a strong relationship with each other. Just understand the greater your efforts in causing them not to like each other will like not work out well. Best laid plans and all of that.

Maximize your time with them targeting a family like thing will at least keep it fun for everyone.

That's a very good point, and we will work on trying to make it that way. Thank you for the insight! 🙂
 
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Clynne

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May 4, 2021
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This is such a complex issue to talk about. A bond is a very special thing .

What works for me, and is the advice I read from Pamela Clark licensed parrot behavior expert. Is too cage them separately but side by side. Let them out together, and allow them to be together during the day, but seperate cages at night.

When I have bonded birds I just have them both with me at once. Birds are pretty hard wired yo stay next to their bond mate.

So instead of forcing one to be with each of you, trade off having both on each one of you. Sort of a package deal.

This package of 2 is a unit now. I could still do little training sessions, one on a stand and one on the table in front of me. But the 2 not far apart like inches to a foot or so.

If you and your husband sit side by side on the couch you can pass both of the birds bsck and forth and share treats, sort of like a doubles date .

Your two GCC are exhibit totally natural behavior, and are going to be happier in the long run.

Except during breeding season they should not loose their bond and affection with you. Breeding season depending on a lot of factors you might see guarding of each other, or of territory. Do not provide any nest bixs or allow yo hide under cushion or under furniture. They may try to protect their cage ( with bites) but be fine once away from the cage.

So have a perch on the door if that type so when swings out they are out if cage. Or hsve some on the outside if cage near the door or both. Start teaching tgrm now to target there fo treat sbd step up. Will do reduce the stress and drama down the road.

That's a good idea, doing it like a little double date. Thank you for the idea, and for explaining the idea behind how their bonding is. We will try and work on it that way. I appreciate the help! 🙂
 

Laurasea

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Even if they are only flock mates/freinds they would naturally and instinctively want to stay in sight line or near each other. For safety. They are flock creatures, a flock plays, eats, and moves together.
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
They may try to mate in the future (based on their gender and current bond) which is another big problem, as 1) breeding is super complicated and not something anyone should attempt without a lot of experience/equipment/training etc and 2) if they are siblings, the genetic issues those babies could have are major. Plus, babies of these babies could mate as well (once mature), so all of the offspring would potentially face the same problem, next generation in your home.


They haven't reached sexual maturity, but will around 1 or 2...In the meantime, I would definitely remove all tents/huts/boxes and access to shadowy spaces (such as in tubes, hampers, coconuts, cartons, under furniture etc) as such spaces are hormonal triggers. Also, if you have any nest-like structures in the cage, remove those as well. You want to discourage getting them in the mood to reproduce. The female does not always produce eggs if the conditions are unfavorable.



Pet on the head and neck only when you handle them (unless it's brief for medical/husbandry).



Ensure 10 hours sleep on a schedule-- too little sleep can mess with hormones and increase breeding behavior as well.



When you interact with them separately, are you doing it in the same room with the other bird?

Thanks for the info! When we do the one on one training, we've been doing it in a separate area. We do it that way because we feel bad for the one that remains in the cage, but also because even when it's just one of them out, they climb all over the other's cage and are still totally distracted by them. Would it be helpful to try and do the training in front of the other one though? We would be willing to try that if it could help.

Regarding the breeding concern, that's something that we're trying to avoid at all costs. All of the info I've stumbled across pertaining to breeding would make me very leary of ever trying, even if I wanted to do it (which I don't). I'm convinced that that's something that should be left to the professionals only. And like you mentioned, without knowing if they're siblings or not definitely makes that something that I would never encourage or try and make happen. We don't have anything in their cages that I can think of that might trigger any kind of nesting, aside from some foraging toys that have the paper Easter grass type of stuff. Should I remove that from their cages? From the female's cage only, or from the male's cage as well?


Do you have a picture of the cage accessories? When they do reach sexual maturity, it will not just about what is in the cage, but also about what they can access outside of the cage. My bird becomes a nesting maniac on the couch because it feels enclosed and shadowy..She starts doing this weird inspection head motion and rubs her beak on things...She loves it...we don't sit on the couch anymore. Cabinets and drawers intrigue her, as does my parents' shadowy bedroom when we visit their house.



I am not sure how to answer whether training both in the same room would be better. It is sort of up in the air right now...but there can be some benefits to training 2 at once (model rival etc)...That having been said, I'd probably continue to try it separately for now...I think you guys need to work on bonding and moving at their pace when they are alone...but that is really just because I think you need time to strengthen your bond...I could be wrong though. Do you have a play perch or something in the training room? I don't know if you want all of your interaction to be training based (especially if that stresses them out)...It's really good to make it more focused on interaction as opposed to petting/touching, BUT your bird might be less stressed out by you if you establish a sort of "chill" space where you aren't always making demands. If you can create a training space and a chill space, that might help, but that is also a bit of a gamble and it's very hard to say...It will get more complicated when they mature sexually, so you definitely are smart to think about this now. My thought is--- this other bird doesn't really demand anything of the other (they just get along). If you have less of a bond but are always pushing training without ever allowing time to chill out in your presence, then that could work against you. I applaud you for training because many people don't and it does matter, but just make sure that you don't over-train to the point that you are a stressful association. Keep training short and sweet and make sure that some of the time you spend with your bird does not involve you placing demands.
 
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Clynne

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They may try to mate in the future (based on their gender and current bond) which is another big problem, as 1) breeding is super complicated and not something anyone should attempt without a lot of experience/equipment/training etc and 2) if they are siblings, the genetic issues those babies could have are major. Plus, babies of these babies could mate as well (once mature), so all of the offspring would potentially face the same problem, next generation in your home.


They haven't reached sexual maturity, but will around 1 or 2...In the meantime, I would definitely remove all tents/huts/boxes and access to shadowy spaces (such as in tubes, hampers, coconuts, cartons, under furniture etc) as such spaces are hormonal triggers. Also, if you have any nest-like structures in the cage, remove those as well. You want to discourage getting them in the mood to reproduce. The female does not always produce eggs if the conditions are unfavorable.



Pet on the head and neck only when you handle them (unless it's brief for medical/husbandry).



Ensure 10 hours sleep on a schedule-- too little sleep can mess with hormones and increase breeding behavior as well.



When you interact with them separately, are you doing it in the same room with the other bird?

Thanks for the info! When we do the one on one training, we've been doing it in a separate area. We do it that way because we feel bad for the one that remains in the cage, but also because even when it's just one of them out, they climb all over the other's cage and are still totally distracted by them. Would it be helpful to try and do the training in front of the other one though? We would be willing to try that if it could help.

Regarding the breeding concern, that's something that we're trying to avoid at all costs. All of the info I've stumbled across pertaining to breeding would make me very leary of ever trying, even if I wanted to do it (which I don't). I'm convinced that that's something that should be left to the professionals only. And like you mentioned, without knowing if they're siblings or not definitely makes that something that I would never encourage or try and make happen. We don't have anything in their cages that I can think of that might trigger any kind of nesting, aside from some foraging toys that have the paper Easter grass type of stuff. Should I remove that from their cages? From the female's cage only, or from the male's cage as well?


Do you have a picture of the cage accessories? When they do reach sexual maturity, it will not just about what is in the cage, but also about what they can access outside of the cage. My bird becomes a nesting maniac on the couch because it feels enclosed and shadowy..She starts doing this weird inspection head motion and rubs her beak on things...She loves it...we don't sit on the couch anymore. Cabinets and drawers intrigue her, as does my parents' shadowy bedroom when we visit their house.



I am not sure how to answer whether training both in the same room would be better. It is sort of up in the air right now...but there can be some benefits to training 2 at once (model rival etc)...That having been said, I'd probably continue to try it separately for now...I think you guys need to work on bonding and moving at their pace when they are alone...but that is really just because I think you need time to strengthen your bond...I could be wrong though. Do you have a play perch or something in the training room? I don't know if you want all of your interaction to be training based (especially if that stresses them out)...It's really good to make it more focused on interaction as opposed to petting/touching, BUT your bird might be less stressed out by you if you establish a sort of "chill" space where you aren't always making demands. If you can create a training space and a chill space, that might help, but that is also a bit of a gamble and it's very hard to say...It will get more complicated when they mature sexually, so you definitely are smart to think about this now. My thought is--- this other bird doesn't really demand anything of the other (they just get along). If you have less of a bond but are always pushing training without ever allowing time to chill out in your presence, then that could work against you. I applaud you for training because many people don't and it does matter, but just make sure that you don't over-train to the point that you are a stressful association. Keep training short and sweet and make sure that some of the time you spend with your bird does not involve you placing demands.

Thank you for your help and the encouragement, and for the suggestion of just hanging out and chilling. That is a really good point. The female is the one that I have more of the solo interaction with (she is more "my" bird, and the male is my husband's), and honestly, I'm probably guilty of pushing her a bit with the training. She makes pretty good progress, so I'm eager to keep it going, but I can totally see how that might get old and become overwhelming for her. My husband is guilty of that with the male as well, so I will mention that to him. I do have a T perch that should be here in a few days, so hopefully that will help give her a place to feel relaxed so we can just hang out. Until now, it's been us hanging out in the other room at a table with some toys and things on it. I can try and get a picture of her cage setup, but I'm not entirely sure how to upload it on here. I'm sooo not tech savvy at all haha. Maybe one of my kiddos can help me with it lol

On a side note, although the two are very fond of each other, I have noticed that he seems to be slightly more possessive or territorial of her, than she is of him (if that's what you'd even consider it). He seems to not like it when I try and do things with her when they're out together, and even when they play, he seems a little rough with her sometimes. He bites at her feet every now and then, and she squawks when he does it. It seems a little bully-ish, although I can't really tell if that's normal play or not. Sometimes she even rolls onto her back when they're playing, and I can't tell if that is her submitting to him, or just how they goof around. Does that seem like something I should be considered about?
 
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noodles123

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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
Look into play-stands and tree perches/tree stands. T perches are mostly for training and weighing. They may be fearful of the new perches at first, so keep that in mind as well. Here is a very fake "photo" (aka bad photoshop job) of what one for a much larger bird might look like--yours could be smaller, but you get the idea:
Arcametti.jpg
 
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noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
8,141
163
Parrots
Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
In general, you want to avoid uniform/dowel perches. Here is another example of tree-stands/ play perches etc:

sddefault.jpg


Here is a link to Google images- https://www.google.com/search?q=tre...i=K7mVYPmCL5G6sQX89proDg&client=firefox-b-1-d


Manzanita and Java, along with dragonwood are the most popular. While it can be tempting to make your own with what you have on-site, the wood of a tree absorbs run-off, road salt and pesticides over the tree's lifetime (which remains after it is chopped). Also, certain wood is toxic, as are certain fungi and lichen. Then there is the issue of viruses and bacteria--- I'm telling you this because it would be very ill-advised to just walk into your yard and start nailing logs and branches together. Wild birds have a different immune system, so when making a perch you must consider the wood source (is it located by a road or where pesticides were used residentially), wood type, any treatments to the wood, and then the bacterial/viral side. If you find safe wood that grew in a place without nasty run off or pesticides etc, then you would still want to bake it before using in most cases.


Many industrial tree-stand makers use large-scale kilns etc to bake the wood etc etc
 
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Clynne

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Oh wow, those are awesome! They look like they'd be a lot of fun to hang out on! I'll try and get something like that for them. I'm sure they'd love it. Thank you for the heads up about the branches and things as well. That's good to know!
 

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