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Unannounced Senegal Bites

Discuss the methods and techniques of clicker training, target training and bonding. These are usually the first steps in training a young parrot.

Unannounced Senegal Bites

Postby CookiesDad » Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:55 pm

I realize I posted it as the last post on a very old thread, and I can't find it by searching. So I'm cross-posting here.

I could use some insights on this.

We have 2 Senegals (plus 3 CAGs), one a recent foster who has been through a very rough patch (was surrendered to a vet, pretty close to death's door). We'll call her "Bird". She is doing much better now, visibly in terms of health and energy. She loves music, which ties in to the general problem, as I am a musician. She gets very excited when I play music, and now that she's feeling well, she loves to dance. (She's really cute).

Her behaviors *seem* to indicate that she wants contact and attention from me. The one time she has flown, it was to me (and no bite occurred). When I sit in my chair (which is by her cage) she comes to the side of her cage watching me. She "dances" with me - in particular a rocking from one foot to the other, with her body going side to side. She seems to love when I mirror this dance with her.

She allows me to scritch her head. She will lift her foot in an apparent "want to step up" manner, but if I offer my finger and say "step up" she immediately (no body language prelude) bites my finger hard and hangs on. It seems completely counter to her other body language. This behavior has been consistent. She goes back in her cage (often having to be pulled off of my finger) when this happens, which does not seem to be the outcome she wants. Saying "ack ack ack" or "no bite" has no impact on her behavior. I don't jerk my hand away or make any entertaining noises when she bites.

My wife can pick her up and mostly does not get bitten - and when Bird does start to bite, my wife can say "no bite" and she stops. (My wife can say "no bite" when Bird bites me, but to no avail).

Right now Bird and I have a "no step ups" relationship. I still give her scritches when her body language says that's OK. She's delighted to take treats from me, and as I said, displays a fascination with me that *seems* affectionate (although with Senegals, it may be "I'm carefully watching for an opening to keeeeel you!" - kidding, I'm just kidding).

I'm wondering if her behaviors (the dancing and fascination) are courtship behaviors, and if the biting is some Senegal courtship thing? I haven't really heard of that. Or that "I" am OK and my finger coming above her head to scritch her head is OK, but my finger coming at "step up" level (slowly, gently) is a threat? Or if she gets overexcited? Or ????

Oh, and she is a female, and she DOES bite hard and hangs on.

Senegal insights welcome.
CookiesDad
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 4
Number of Birds Owned: 4
Types of Birds Owned: African Greys and Senegals
Flight: No

Re: Unannounced Senegal Bites

Postby Pajarita » Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:48 am

You posted under Parrot Care and I replied there but I am copying my reply here.

Hi, Dad, and welcome to the forum! Well, senegals are one-person birds [most parrots are] and, apparently, Bird chose your wife as her human. I have two senegals, a male and female. Sweetpea, the male and the most intel nigent parrot I have and have ever had, hated me with a passion for 3.5 years and attacked me as often as he could every single day. It took over 5 years for him to become people friendly [he actually hated everybody, not only me]. Zoey, on the other hand, loved me from day one even though her previous human was a man and she hated his wife -that's why she was rehomed. Occasionally, they switch their allegiance from one human to another if the original choice does not work out but they usually stick to it. Now, this doesn't mean you cannot have a good relationship with her! Zoey hated my husband to the point that she would fly to his shoulders and back just to bite him - hard! He was so afraid of her, he used to walk around the house with a long-sleeved hoodie and with the hood on and the 'string' tied tight around his face even on real hot days But she slowly learned to accept him and, although he cannot get her to step up to his hand, he uses a stick and end of problem! Which is what I would recommend to you. You see, the thing with parrots aggression is that we create it. Parrots are not aggressive animals. They are not predators or live in a hierarchical society so the trait is not really hard-wired into their brain and it's only use for protection and defense. The problem is that a lot of people who keep parrots think of them as dogs with feathers and mess them up by actually teaching them to use bites -aggression- as a way of getting their point across when people don't 'listen' to them and, sometimes, they get into the habit and use it even when they are approached by people who do listen to them. So the key to eradicate this behavior is to break the cycle by not giving them a single opportunity to bite. I know it sounds kind of stupid but it's the truth! Discontinue the behavior and, eventually, the habit will disappear. So, don't ask her to step up to your hand. Try, as much as possible, not to ask her for anything, and, if you need to move her from point A to point B, use a stick and, in time, she will forget about this habit and stop biting.

As to her 'dance'... well, that's not the way senegals really dance. In my personal experience, only the males do it and it is a courtship behavior addressed only to the females which might accept the male or not. Females don't really have courtship behaviors [they have breeding behaviors but not 'courtship' behaviors] because, in nature, it's always the males who have to work at wooing and the only thing females have to do is to accept him or not :D . And the males dance is different than what you describe, they separate their wings from their bodies, curving them around their sides and half-fluffing up their head and neck, go round and round and round, one way and then the other. It's actually quite cute! What you describe is what most of my parrots do when they want something - usually, to be picked up or to be let out of the cage so. in a way, it's a sign of excitement, too. But it could very well be that she enjoys the music! I've never seen this in my senegals but I've seen it in my grays and cockatoos.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 11880
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Unannounced Senegal Bites

Postby CookiesDad » Tue Aug 01, 2017 7:25 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

Pajarita wrote:You posted under Parrot Care and I replied there but I am copying my reply here.

Hi, Dad, and welcome to the forum! Well, senegals are one-person birds [most parrots are] and, apparently, Bird chose your wife as her human. I have two senegals, a male and female. Sweetpea, the male and the most intel nigent parrot I have and have ever had, hated me with a passion for 3.5 years and attacked me as often as he could every single day.


That's what's curious. Our other Senegal has chosen "not me" and his behaviors toward me are much more consistent. I know that other than giving him treats, hand contact will result in a bite, and so we manage that (no hand contact, plenty of treats).
Bird, on the other hand, shows this deep fascination with me and very much presents "step up" behavior (which I am not taking her up on until we figure this out).
As to her 'dance'... well, that's not the way senegals really dance. In my personal experience, only the males do it and it is a courtship behavior addressed only to the females which might accept the male or not. Females don't really have courtship behaviors [they have breeding behaviors but not 'courtship' behaviors] because, in nature, it's always the males who have to work at wooing and the only thing females have to do is to accept him or not :D . And the males dance is different than what you describe, they separate their wings from their bodies, curving them around their sides and half-fluffing up their head and neck, go round and round and round, one way and then the other. It's actually quite cute! What you describe is what most of my parrots do when they want something - usually, to be picked up or to be let out of the cage so. in a way, it's a sign of excitement, too. But it could very well be that she enjoys the music! I've never seen this in my senegals but I've seen it in my grays and cockatoos.


Good to know that it's not a courtship dance.
She definitely loves to dance to music - she's a real boogie woogie girl.
And the "excited" dance - that definitely describes it, and she does it "to" me.
So the mystery continues. I'm going to start some non-touch training soon. As I said, she gladly takes treats from me. Target training to start.
CookiesDad
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 4
Number of Birds Owned: 4
Types of Birds Owned: African Greys and Senegals
Flight: No


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