Trained Parrot BlogParrot Wizard Online Parrot Toy StoreThe Parrot Forum

HELP with a recently rehomed conure please

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

HELP with a recently rehomed conure please

Postby DarceeR » Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:01 am

HI!

We recently adopted a conure. The previous home did not want him because he was extremely aggressive and would attack and bite. He was well fed, plenty of toys and they gave him outside time. He is approx one year old and was hand raised. He is not afraid of people and will step up sometimes but more often will bite very hard on fingers, ears etc. He will also fly to attack somebody. I read the article and have started target training in the cage to avoid bites. He is doing wonderfully with this. He will follow all over the cage, touch (sometime bite) the stick and will take a small treat from our hands without issue. When he does look to bite I slide the stick away. This is the point where they suggested to target inside the cage to get him ready to move out. The problem is that he tries to come out as soon as the door is open and the food is not enough to lure him back inside the cage. Once out he does not care about the food. He was always allowed to come out on his own due to biting. He also started to be aggressive again once I opened the door but he was not when he was in the cage. I am stuck as to which way to go and do not want to make things worse. Any recommendation is great, we really want him to him be healthy and a loving part of our family. Thank you! Darcee
DarceeR
Parrotlet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 10
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: green cheek conure
Flight: Yes

Re: HELP with a recently rehomed conure please

Postby Pajarita » Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:35 am

Welcome to the forum! You don't say what you are feeding it, when you feed him and how many hours of out of cage and one-on-one he has with his chosen human - you don't even say how long you've had him! And all these details are necessary to understand what the problem is and how to help you solve it. But I can tell you one single thing without knowing anything else: one year old GCCs are not sexually mature yet so any aggression he is showing is not hormonal but a learned behavior.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14273
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: HELP with a recently rehomed conure please

Postby Tazlima » Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:38 am

Hello there! This is my first post here, and there are folks with far more experience than me, so take this with a grain of salt, but my quaker came to me three months ago in a similar situation, rehomed because he was biting (and he doesn't go for gentle warning nips - when he bites, he clamps down hard and hangs on).

A couple things I've worked out over the past three months. 1) Like a toddler, he's more prone to be grumpy if he's hungry (this is the most common one), overly tired and up past his bedtime, or wound up and overexcited. Now that I've gotten better at reading his body language, when I see the behavior beginning, I'll put him in his cage for just a couple minutes - long enough for him to grab a snack, and when I let him back out, he's generally much better. Even if he's hangry, he doesn't want to miss any of the non-stop action that is watching me do chores. I have to remind him to eat, and then he'll be like "oh yeah, I guess I AM pretty hungry."

2) Re: doing chores - I've found that the time I'm most likely to get bitten is if I try to sit down and relax. Gus gets bored easily and has zero interest in foot toys (I'm working on this), so he entertains himself by bothering me, sometimes by chewing on my clothes (which would be fine, only he always ends up biting too deeply and pinching my skin in a fold of cloth), or trying to preen me, which would also be fine, except his idea of preening involves plucking hair (from arms, legs, head, my boyfriend's beard, or the dogs) and/or attempting to surgically remove my freckles. Sometimes he simply bites me with no other reason than to bite, but this is the least common and there's generally a reason, although it can take me a while to figure out what it is - I've learned the hard way that Gus HATES wristwatches and bracelets. If I wear anything on my wrist, I'll bleed for it.

However, if I'm actually doing something, he's perfectly content to sit nearby, observe my actions, and chatter with me. My house is much cleaner thanks to Gus, because when he's out, I know that as long as I'm in motion, I'm much less likely to be bitten. So I turn on some music and he'll sit on the faucet and watch me do dishes, periodically flying away when spooked by a large plate or something, only to return a moment later. Then he'll fly from door to door and watch me fold laundry. Then I'll get out the broom or the vacuum and he'll fly to his playstand or cage and scold me for fooling with such dangerous and terrifying contraptions.

After I get tired of cleaning, we have a nice little training session, which he seems to enjoy immensely (he actually initiates about half our training sessions by coming over and saying "Good boy," which I've figured out means "hey, let's do some training!"). I enjoy the training sessions, because it's the only time he's never once bitten me. They're wholly positive and pleasant for both of us. Finally, if I feel like he hasn't flown around enough, we play a bit of chase/hide-and-seek around the house (this emerged naturally as recall training got more complex) to burn off any remaining excess energy. By the time I finally sit down, he's happy, tuckered out, and content to sit calmly for a bit, preening or dozing off.

It's not always easy, and it's really only in the past few days that I've really started to trust him (and he's strictly forbidden from sitting on my head or shoulders), but little by little, the biting is slowly going away.

I've found two bits of knowledge from my experience with dogs have carried over particularly well.

1) a tired dog is a good dog

2) A dog (or child, or bird, or whatever) has to have the opportunity to be bad to learn to be good. If you want your dog to have good leash manners, or your child to comport themselves well in a restaurant, you HAVE to take the dog out on a leash or take the kid to restaurants. And they'll probably be little turds the first few times and you may have to cut the evening short if the behavior is too bad and you're too stressed to handle it well... but if you keep trying, eventually they'll learn.

The hardest moments for me have been re-approaching Gus after I've recieved a nasty bite. It's hard to stay cool when you're bleeding. If he's been put in the cage, it's a bit scary to let him back out, aware you might get bitten again. But you HAVE to keep trying. He can't learn to be good if he doesn't have the opportunity to be bad.

He's bonded to me now, so if your bird isn't bonded to you, I don't know if this will work, but the method I've found most effective for handling bites (and I've tried a variety of different things) is to yelp so he knows he hurt me, which will generally cause him to fly away - if he doesn't fly off, I'll set him down. Then I go into another room and shut the door behind me. I give him a minute or two, no longer, to be upset that I've left him all alone. During that pause, I focus on my own behavior. I do some breathing exercises to make sure I'm calm and relaxed, not giving off any signals of tension or fear, and then I go back out, with all forgiven and continue as if nothing happened. He's generally contrite and gentler afterward.

I'm sure there will be others along with good advice later, and there are questions of light and diet that are also of vital importance and which I'm sure they'll cover in depth, but as someone who was in your position just a few months ago, I figured it can't hurt to share what's been working for me.
Tazlima
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 1
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Quaker Parrot
Flight: Yes

Re: HELP with a recently rehomed conure please

Postby DarceeR » Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:09 pm

Pajarita,

I will try to answer these and thank you for the response.

We have only had him since Thursday so not even a week. The other family seemed to take good care of him but had gotten to a point with the biting that they did not want to interact. She did let him out a lot and I saw him step up with her. I don't know what a lot was, definitely daily. She said the worst of the behaviors began after his wings and toes were clipped so I am guessing this could have triggered it.

You don't say what you are feeding it: Rowdy Bush is kept in the bowl all day and for training treats he like millet spray, seems to love them. He also likes raspberries, apples, and frozen carrot and pea mix. I have withheld the fruits and veggies during the day to encourage him to train with the millet but he did get a little this evening.

how many hours of out of cage and one-on-one he has with his chosen human -He doesn't have a chosen human at this point. He does seem to like my daughter more, but e bites her pretty hard too and she is 11 so a bit scared now. Since we had him home he was getting at least 2 hours a day if not more, generally he was out for breakfast with us, I would let him out again when the kids went to school (usually a few times in that period but put him back when he started attacking), and then again when the kids got home and then at dinner, so frequent but not extremely long periods. I did not let him out yesterday due to the target training....since he was doing so well following the stick, I tried to get him to do this in the cage and he bit and did not let go again :-(. In any case I Think this answers all your questions :-) Let me know if you need to know anything else and thank you again!
DarceeR
Parrotlet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 10
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: green cheek conure
Flight: Yes

Re: HELP with a recently rehomed conure please

Postby DarceeR » Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:10 pm

HI Tazlima!

Thank you for the detailed post and feeling of hope! :hatched:
DarceeR
Parrotlet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 10
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: green cheek conure
Flight: Yes

Re: HELP with a recently rehomed conure please

Postby Pajarita » Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:42 am

OK - You don't say how old he is but, going by his behavior, I would say that he has to be older than. Let me explain. GCCs mature sexually at 18 to 24 months of age and his behavior seems to me (hard to tell without getting detailed info from his previous owner) to be of a male that is overly hormonal -this means not only chronic sexual frustration but also discomfort and even pain. They don't become overly hormonal in a year or two but, as the days, weeks, months and years go by, they do. The reason this happens is that people don't realize that birds are all photoperiodic - a long word that means that their endocrine system (the one that controls glands and hormone production) is governed by the amount and quality of light they receive. Birds need to follow a strict solar schedule with full exposure to dawn and dusk or their endocrine system gets all screwed up and they produce sexual hormones continuously -something that NEVER happens in the wild. You see, birds are not like mammals. Mammals have cycles too (periods for women, heat, season or estrus for animals) but even though production goes up and down, they still produce sexual hormones all the time - birds don't. They start producing them at the very beginning of the breeding season (and when this season falls is determined by evolution tweaking and tweaking until the bird's breeding season is the best time of the year to reproduce) when their gonads (sexual organs) become active and start growing, preparing for actual reproduction. But, when the breeding season is over (also determined by the number of daylight hours and whether the days are becoming longer or shorter and determined by evolution), they stop completely, their gonads shrink and become dormant until the next breeding season. In captivity, people who don't know this, keep their birds at a human light schedule (artificial lights on early in the morning before the sun even started to come out and again on after sunset), this, added to a diet way too rich, makes their bodies believe that it's breeding season all the time so their gonads grow and grow and grow and end up actually displacing other internal organs out of the way so the poor bird is not only chronically aroused sexually and without any relief, it's also in physical discomfort and even constant pain. This is the most common reason for birds screaming all the time, biting, plucking, etc and who can blame them?!

Now, GCCs, for all their small size are not really easy birds to care for because they are intensely needy - so much so that I always compare them to cockatoos! They are mainly fruit eaters so the Roudybush bowl is not good for him because they need a diet that is high in fiber and moisture (pellets are not) and low in protein and very low in fat (again, pellets are not). They also need many hours of out of cage and one-on-one or they become despondent.

I've had four of them, all of them given up because of aggression and they all ended up being the sweetest things once they were physically and emotionally comfortable so half your battle is providing him with the right diet, the right light schedule and hours of out of cage and one-on-one. Now, as to how to treat him until he feels better. You have not had him long enough for anybody in your family to interact with him so eliminate any physical interaction immediately because, as far as he is concerned, he doesn't know any of you from Adam and are not trustworthy. Asking him to intereact with him will backfire at this point in time. You need to think of him as a human you just met... Think of him as a stranger that is not feeling well and that you have taken from his family and moved into your house without his permission. He is feeling lost, abandoned, confused and, most likely, also angry. He would not take it kindly to you asking him to grab your hand so you can move him (this is what you do when you ask him to step up) or for you to take familiarities with his body. Parrots are highly social and very affectionate but they are also independent and very intelligent thinkers which need to be won over on their terms. So open his cage (he will go back into it on his own if you follow my instructions on feeding him - I guarantee it!) and let him out, don't put your hand in his cage and expect him to step up to it (it's like a stranger coming into your bedroom and laying down on your bed next to you). Talk to him, sing, whistle, dance and spend as many hours as you can in the same room with him but don't stare at him (only predators do that and that's why they have their eyes on the front of their faces -like we do) and offer him a treat every now and then (a tiny bit of millet or, better still, a small piece of nut -my GCC loves walnuts) but, if he doesn't take it, just leave it where he can reach it and walk away because this is not a reward for good behavior, it's a gift from him to you as a token of your desire to become his friend.

How to get him back into his cage. At the beginning, you might have to let him out two hours before dinner (I'll explain why) but, as time goes by and he gets used to the routine (and even a verbal command -my birds go into their cages when i tell them to 'Go home!') he will go back during the day, too. The only trick is that his routine can never change - well, at least for the first two years or so, after they are firmly used to it, you have a bit of leeway in case of an emergency. The trick to get him to go back into his cage is protein food. There are two benefits to not free-feeding protein food: one is that it's 1,000 times healthier for them (high protein will destroy their liver and kidneys) but the second one is that because they are all hard-wired to crave protein, they will gladly do most anything for it BUT for this to work, you can't free-feed it because why would a bird work for it if it's always there in his cage? My birds eat gloop and raw produce for breakfast and all day picking and a measured, small portion of a seed mix or a seed/nut mix (depends on the species) but a GCC should eat a good budgie mix because anything higher in protein is not healthy for them. If you do this, he will gladly go into his cage if you put a high value item in it (it's the kind of protein food that he prefers over all others, usually a favorite nut).

I'll tell you my GCC schedule: this time of the year (it changes as the days get longer or shorter because they follow the sun), she gets her door open at 6 am and gets on my shoulder at around 6:45 to 7 am (this is because I have to let the dogs out and feed and water them and the cats first) where she stays until I put breakfast in her cage (around 8 am) when she goes back for about half an hour to eat it (but she often munches on her fruit while I clean the cages). Then she comes out again and stays on my shoulder until 2 or 2:30 pm when she goes back into her cage, at 4:00 pm, I turn off the overhead lights (I have full spectrum in the ceiling fixtures) and I feed them dinner at 4:45 pm.

GCCs are super sweet-tempered (not as much as cockatiels but pretty up there in my list), very affectionate, smart and beautiful little birds BUT because of their need for many hours of company, they can be very easy or very difficult to handle BUT it always depends on the human and the husbandry, never on them.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14273
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: HELP with a recently rehomed conure please

Postby DarceeR » Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:57 am

Hi Pajarita,

Thank you so much. A lot of useful information. Just to confirm the high quality budgie mix is the high protein used to encourage them back in the cage? He did get some kale and other veggies yesterday and loved them, the family we got him from said he did not like lettuce so maybe this is a bit different.

We have cut back on training as you suggested and he was out for about an hour yesterday. I can def understand how we are strangers and he does not trust us. He did not trust them either. She said he is just a bit over a year old so maybe not sexually mature based on what you mentioned earlier, which is a little scary given how aggressive he is even unprovoked. The issue with not interacting physically is that he will fly to us and then bite us even when we are not talking or looking at him. Not just bite, attack, bit, hold on and draw blood. I did learn yesterday that he will follow the millet, so instead of getting him to step up I walked to the cage and showed the millet and he followed it back to the cage. I understand he will go back in the cage at some point, however he likes the couch and other items that are not ok for him to sit on for long periods so I move him to a perch or the cage top. He doesn't seem to mind getting on my arm to do this but any suggestions are welcomed. In any case I guess the whole tings is a learning lesson for both of us. I will take it much much much slower and keep him to a schedule with better food and hopefully this will help!

Thank you so much again.
DarceeR
Parrotlet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 10
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: green cheek conure
Flight: Yes

Re: HELP with a recently rehomed conure please

Postby Pajarita » Tue Mar 05, 2019 12:46 pm

He must have a closed band on his leg that has the year he was born (it's two digits, the last of th year and the are almost always engraved across) because, if he is truly only one (people lie about the age of the animals they rehome all the time), he must have been severely neglected and misunderstood which made me grow up dissafected. Don't misunderstand me, I am sure that, in their own way, they did love him but there is the right kind of love and there is the wrong one. The right kind of love is the one that puts the object of our affection first and, with companion parrots, this means learning as much as we can and applying that knowledge - a very difficult thing to do because birds are completely different from mammals -which is what everybody knows about- and it requires hours and hours of research and even more difficut to put into practice, especiall for people with normal lifestyles because it implies the entire household and life of the chosen human revolving around the bird's needs. And then you have the wrong kind of love... the one that says "I love you!" to the bird but that, in reality, means "I love myself and got you to entertain me, to love me unconditionally and to accept whatever level of care I give you without complain".

If he is truly only one, you should not be having any formal training sessions at all because he is still a juvenile. All animals need to be adults or pretty close to it before they start training. Horses are not trained until the are two years old and dogs until seven months old at the earliest (large breeds start much later), and trainers all adhere to this but, when it comes to birds, people seem to believe they are different when they are not... not in that respect, anyway. This does not mean he won't be learning, he will. But he will learn to trust you first (a never changing routine goes a long wa toward achieving this) so he can then love you (bond) as well as cohabiting skills like to step up, step down, etc. These do not require actual training, the bird does them because it's in its nature to do them.

As to his liking to go where he shouldn't... well, my dear, welcome to the wonderful club of parrot owners who all have messed up homes! :lol:

And yes, his dinner should be a budgie mix and his breakfast is up to you, it can be gloop (which I recommend for several reasons which I can elaborate if you wish), mash or chop but it cannot be pellets. I've been doing research on parrots natural diets since my first rescue was diagnosed with high uric acid, back in 1994 and have never stopped - my conclusion: pellets are not and never will be the best dietary option for them. They are too dissimilar to their natural diets... too dry, too processed, too high in protein, wrong kind of fiber, have soy, preservatives, lab-made vitamins, and are terribly boring (always the same taste and bland at that!). Plus, they are made with inferior ingredients (feed quality vs human grade) which are not organic. There is one brand that is better than all the others, it's called Tops, but they are still too ambiguous when it comes to protein content and way too dry.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14273
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: HELP with a recently rehomed conure please

Postby DarceeR » Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:38 pm

HI Pajarita,

Thank you again...do you have a recommendation for a brand of budgie mix? I saw Tops had a napolean mix they say is good for budgies as well as others.
https://topsparrotfood.com/products/top ... s-seed-mix

Since you know they go "where they are "not supposed to" you can see why I do have to get him to step up at times! IDK about the attacking from a distance though....any ideas on this?

Thanks!
DarceeR
Parrotlet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 10
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: green cheek conure
Flight: Yes

Re: HELP with a recently rehomed conure please

Postby Pajarita » Wed Mar 06, 2019 9:46 am

I couldn't find the nutritional values for the mix anywhere so I am afraid that I cannot answer the question of whether it''s good or bad. I don't feed buckwheat and, although I do use flax seeds as well as sesame seeds, the sesame is only added during breeding season and up until molt is halfway over and the flax is added to the gloop (they are both very high in fat so I am careful about them). The mix I use is ABBA 1600 and I get it directly from the manufacturer to ensure freshness (seed or grains should not be stored longer than 3 months).

I would use a stick to move him from one place to another. My birds also go on the sofas but everthing in my living and dining room is covered as protection from the birds and the cats (I put quilts on the sofas and thick plastic covers on all the horizontal surfaces like tables, etc). As to his flying to you to bite you... well, the only thing that works is to keep your eye on him and, when you see him looking straight at you and begin to crouch to take flight, duck real fast so he will end up flying over your head. That's what I had to do with Sweetpea Senegal who hated me with a passion for 3.5 years (he had had a very bad life, the poor thing!). The trick is to prevent them from biting you so they lose the habit. The other thing you can do is wear a hoodie tied around your face so he cannot reach your ears and neck (my husband used to do this all the time because he was terrified of the parrots biting him :lol: ).
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14273
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

Next

Return to Taming & Basic Training

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests

Parrot ForumArticles IndexTraining Step UpParrot Training BlogPoicephalus Parrot InformationParrot Wizard Store