Why he gotta bite me, though?

May 26, 2024
6
4
Mead, Oklahoma
Parrots
I have a 4-year-old male green cheek conure named Iguazú.

I’ve had 1 other green cheek conure and TONS of budgies over the years.
My conure is a 4-year-old male. I adopted him from a breeder who’s very hands-on with her babies, which is why I chose to adopt my second conure from her. Well, Iguazú likes to bite. I wouldn’t say that he’s aggressive. He just doesn’t like being handled much when fingers are involved. No petting. No grabbing. He’ll willingly step up onto my hand. He acts as though he wants to be picked up and even tries to fly to me, but I can tell that he prefers to be carried around. Specifically, he’ll perch on my shoulder and nap in my hair or gently nibble on my ear.

Earlier, I was petting his head. He’ll let me on occasion. He seemed to really enjoy it, too…up until he bit me out of nowhere. I stepped back to observe him. His head and shoulders got all puffed up and he started “talking smack”. Literally. When he’s not happy with me, it seriously sounds like he’s cussing me out and mumbling insults under his breath. That’s when I know he’s had enough. Other than that, he shows no additional signs of aggression.

I just want to know how to curb this habit. I’ve tried putting him back in his cage. I’ve tried sitting him down and walking off. I’ve yelled no whenever he’d bite me. 4 years later and nothing has changed. I don’t even know why he bites me half of the time. It doesn’t just happen when I try to pet or preen him.
 
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I think it’s just normal conure behavior. Distraction is your best friend, maybe use a favorite toy to play with. Remove your hands so he can’t bite them. If he’s extra bitey, wear a hoodie so you can cover your hands. He’ll let you know when he wants a head scratch when he puts his head down. Avoid making an up and back poking motion, bird don’t seem to like that.
 
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I think it’s just normal conure behavior. Distraction is your best friend, maybe use a favorite toy to play with. Remove your hands so he can’t bite them. If he’s extra bitey, wear a hoodie so you can cover your hands. He’ll let you know when he wants a head scratch when he puts his head down. Avoid making an up and back poking motion, bird don’t seem to like that.
My previous conure was so mellow compared to Iguazú. Never had any issues with her or really any bird in the past. I took in a few budgies that were deemed “aggressive” by their previous families, but they made it so obvious what their issues were. I guess my true issue with Iguazú is that I really can’t tell what his deal is. He’s always been this way. Lol. The fact that he doesn’t present any warning signs prior to biting me makes it hard for me to distract him from doing it. I also have limited mobility in both wrists, so covering up with a long-sleeved shirt or hoodie would limit my mobility more so. I rather him bite me at that point. Haha. Playing with him seems to get him worked up as well, so offering a toy would result in being bit. I can certainly deal with it, though. I was just hoping that this was a habit that I could work with him on dropping.
 
My previous conure was so mellow compared to Iguazú. Never had any issues with her or really any bird in the past. I took in a few budgies that were deemed “aggressive” by their previous families, but they made it so obvious what their issues were. I guess my true issue with Iguazú is that I really can’t tell what his deal is. He’s always been this way. Lol. The fact that he doesn’t present any warning signs prior to biting me makes it hard for me to distract him from doing it. I also have limited mobility in both wrists, so covering up with a long-sleeved shirt or hoodie would limit my mobility more so. I rather him bite me at that point. Haha. Playing with him seems to get him worked up as well, so offering a toy would result in being bit. I can certainly deal with it, though. I was just hoping that this was a habit that I could work with him on dropping.
Every bird is so unique, maybe it’s just his personality. Or maybe he’ll outgrow it with time. Might not hurt to put some extra shredding toys in his cage to destroy. LOL! Better to bite on toys than your hands. :) My bird loves the toys made out of palm...he’s chewing on it as I’m typing this. Ha! Good luck with your little bird, I’m sure you’ll work it out. :)
 
It does sound like normal conure behavior to me too. The puffing up isn't aggression or even really a sign that he's mad, it's more grandstanding than anything. If he starts getting tall and puffing out his neck, then you should always know a bite is coming. And I've noticed that slow head swaying is a precursor regardless of whether neck feathers fluff up.. or like, it's hard to describe, there's this way that green cheeks will turn their head and give you very pointed eye contact lol. Then you know it's coming.

How you react is key to why he keeps doing it. I mean, from what you're describing he isn't biting you because he's done with scritches, he's biting you because he wants to engage in grandstanding to show you how big and strong he is. If you scold him, like my wife scolds our GCC, you're honestly encouraging it--ANY attention is encouraging it because you're paying attention to his big and strong self lol. Our GCC even laughs when he's scolded... haha.

The best response to behavior like that is shunning. The moment he bites you, say "No" very firmly (with as much consistency in tone as possible), and then put him down in a neutral place (not the cage) and turn your back to him. Ignore him for a full minute. If he tries to get around this by hopping back on your shoulder or flying to you, put him back down and reset the timer for another minute until he takes his time out.
 
you may have hit a pin feather.....just a thought.
 
My conure is a 4-year-old male. I adopted him from a breeder who’s very hands-on with her babies, which is why I chose to adopt my second conure from her. Well, Iguazú likes to bite. I wouldn’t say that he’s aggressive. He just doesn’t like being handled much when fingers are involved. No petting. No grabbing. He’ll willingly step up onto my hand. He acts as though he wants to be picked up and even tries to fly to me, but I can tell that he prefers to be carried around. Specifically, he’ll perch on my shoulder and nap in my hair or gently nibble on my ear.

Earlier, I was petting his head. He’ll let me on occasion. He seemed to really enjoy it, too…up until he bit me out of nowhere. I stepped back to observe him. His head and shoulders got all puffed up and he started “talking smack”. Literally. When he’s not happy with me, it seriously sounds like he’s cussing me out and mumbling insults under his breath. That’s when I know he’s had enough. Other than that, he shows no additional signs of aggression.

I just want to know how to curb this habit. I’ve tried putting him back in his cage. I’ve tried sitting him down and walking off. I’ve yelled no whenever he’d bite me. 4 years later and nothing has changed. I don’t even know why he bites me half of the time. It doesn’t just happen when I try to pet or preen him.
Thought I’d add this since time outs didn’t work for my bird. He gets to stay out as long as he wants unless he is excessively bitey. When he is, he goes back in the cage. As far as I can tell, there’s no hard feelings, he has a nice flight cage with lots of perches, decks, toys, snacks, and a bath tub. It allows him to let him to calm down. I give him several chances to come out of his cage throughout the day, that seems to work well for us. The main focus: do not allow behavior you don’t want repeated. Oftentimes, that means you have to be the one to remove your hands or take a step away. The other option, is to use a shield. For me, that’s usually my Ipad. I create a barrier as needed. He likes to sit on top when I hold it, he runs up and down my arm, or hides inside my shirt. If he’s extra bitey, I sit on the sofa with my legs out. He likes to run up and down my leg. I make a tent for him near my feet, he runs in and out, having the best time. If he’s hurting me, he’s not allowed anywhere near my face.
 
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you may have hit a pin feather.....just a thought.
He isn’t molting right now. I’m always careful when he is. If I mess with a pin feather on accident, he screams really loud and then tries to bite me.
 
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Thought I’d add this since time outs didn’t work for my bird. He gets to stay out as long as he wants unless he is excessively bitey. When he is, he goes back in the cage. As far as I can tell, there’s no hard feelings, he has a nice flight cage with lots of perches, decks, toys, snacks, and a bath tub. It allows him to let him to calm down. I give him several chances to come out of his cage throughout the day, that seems to work well for us. The main focus: do not allow behavior you don’t want repeated. Oftentimes, that means you have to be the one to remove your hands or take a step away. The other option, is to use a shield. For me, that’s usually my Ipad. I create a barrier as needed. He likes to sit on top when I hold it, he runs up and down my arm, or hides inside my shirt. If he’s extra bitey, I sit on the sofa with my legs out. He likes to run up and down my leg. I make a tent for him near my feet, he runs in and out, having the best time. If he’s hurting me, he’s not allowed anywhere near my face.
Before moving into our RV, I used to let him out for most of the day. He had free range of my room and would ride on my shoulder around the house. I’ve since downsized his cage and I seldom let him out to keep him safe. Too many people going in and out of the RV. I’m afraid he’ll get spooked and fly right out of the door. I know this also contributes to his ill behavior. He’s miserable. I’m actually trying to rehome him for this very reason.
 

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