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Why's my parrot deliberately dive bombing me?

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Why's my parrot deliberately dive bombing me?

Postby k9shrink » Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:45 pm

Hi everyone,

I have one parrot, an almost 5 year old Congo African Grey female named Clover. I'm home with her all day and am her "best buddy." She is out of her cage in the same room where I work, with access to several large play stands. Clover is clicker trained to step up and do many tricks. Until the incidents described below, I would consider her relatively non-aggressive. (She bites to draw blood maybe twice a year).

When we got Clover, she was a feather picker. She's been fully feathered for 2 years now, but only really took up flying in the past six months. While she will do a flighted recall, most of her flying is spent on dive-bombing me, around 10-20 times a day. (And increasing in frequency). If I'm holding something she wants--such as a pen or a cookie--she zooms off her playstand, briefly lands in my hair, grabbing me in her "talons," then circles around for another go. She also does this if she makes a request ("want an apple?") that I ignore. Basically, if anything gets her the least bit peeved, she's immediately zooming off the playstand and clawing at my head.

At first, I studiously showed no reaction other than maybe ducking at the last minute to avoid the claws. Lately, I've taken to grabbing things to defend myself with, such as a magazine, and waving it around over my head, while still remaining silent. On two occasions, I threw an empty yogurt cup at her to fend her off. But I try to minimize my reaction so she doesn't get reinforced for the dive bombing.

After each incident, I immediately put on a leather glove and put her back into her cage--she can be agitated at these times and will give pinching (non-serious) bites. I let her out a bit later, and she sits calmly on her playstand until something peeves her and she attacks me again.

She has also started dive-bombing our cat when he eats out of his food dish, and our small dog while he's on the ground chewing a toy. These are animals she has known for years and got along with wonderfully.

As this is my first parrot, and now first FLIGHTED parrot, I don't know if her behavior is normal or not. Is this part of living with a flighted bird? What's the best way to deal with it...and preferably, to prevent it? I spent years trying to get her flighted, but these constant attacks are making me heavily consider the possibility of wing clipping.

Thanks,

Sharon in Istanbul :gray:
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k9shrink
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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Location: Istanbul, Turkey
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Types of Birds Owned: Congo African Grey
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Re: Why's my parrot deliberately dive bombing me?

Postby cml » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:33 pm

Are you sure she isnt just trying to land?

If so you could give her an alternative place to land than your head, for example your arm.
I never permit Stitch on my head.
Stitch (WFA) and Leroy (BWP)
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Re: Why's my parrot deliberately dive bombing me?

Postby Michael » Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:18 pm

Sounds fun! If I were a bird, I'd totally do want to do that! Your reaction is probably priceless :lol:
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Re: Why's my parrot deliberately dive bombing me?

Postby pennyandrocky » Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:29 pm

mya was doing that to me earlier,she also had an egg this morning i had to take it since it was broken so that might be why.
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Re: Why's my parrot deliberately dive bombing me?

Postby marie83 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:54 pm

Lol, agree with Michael, it will be a fun game to your bird now. If your bird isn't scared of them try wearing a baseball cap or other hat for a while so you wont react to the attacks. Hopefully the game won't be quite so fun to them then... Or it at least buys you time to train better habbits.
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Re: Why's my parrot deliberately dive bombing me?

Postby k9shrink » Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:34 am

Hi guys,

Thanks for your replies. However, I think you're misunderstanding my reactions. I'm very aware that responding can be reinforcing. The first month of attacks--around 100 of them--I showed no reaction. I can hear her flapping towards me, and I just continued what I was doing (usually working online). She should have gotten no reinforcement for these. She did them over and over and I never moved, made a sound, or put her in her cage--just 100% ignoring them in hopes they would extinguish.

She seems to direct them at me because of jealousy (I had something she wanted) or anger (I ignored her requests for treats). My picking up the phone to make or answer a call will ALWAYS initiate the dive bombing. She always dive-bombs the pets when they have something that she doesn't have (a dog toy, cat food in a bowl). The 8 lb. dog reacts to her attacks by running out of the room. The cat backs away from his dish for an instant, then resumes eating.

Anyway, the second month or so, I would sometimes duck just before Clover got to my head, and she'd then fly past without the claws grabbing me. Only recently have I taken to trying to block her from getting to me at all by swinging a magazine above my head. However, I'm not looking at her or speaking to her when I do this--just using the magazine as a negative reinforcer that she can avoid by NOT dive bombing me.

She strongly dislikes my husband (puffs up her feathers when she sees him, and will strike at him if he approaches her cage), but has never tried these attacks with him. I also have visitors at least weekly, and she has never done this with them either.

I can try the hat idea to see if that works.

However, I'm also surprised that this doesn't seem to be a common problem. I was thinking I'd get a bunch of replies from other people with dive-bombing birds. I was thinking I'd finally solved the mystery about why so few people keep flighted parrots in the home...

Sharon
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Re: Why's my parrot deliberately dive bombing me?

Postby marie83 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:11 am

My conure dive bombs my partner when he is on the phone but never does to me. My partner reacts to him though and I never do. I think sometimes birds pick up on alot of signals that we don't even realise we are giving off and some birds will be more perceptive to those signals than others. I think its damn near impossible when being attacked not to give some sort of reaction, its just a matter on whether the bird picks up on it or not. The other thing is I think Ollie has alot more respect for me on the whole than he does for my partner because I do all his training. Despite this I would say he is probably 55% mt OH's bird and 45% bonded to me so its pretty equal. Yet my partner cant do much with him at all, not even step up.

These are only my theories on it from the behaviour I've observed with Ollie though. Might be worth spending more time on training too.
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Re: Why's my parrot deliberately dive bombing me?

Postby marie83 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:31 am

Another theory, maybe you are making too much of a point of ignoring the behaviour?

Lets say your happily typing away at your computer keyboard, maybe humming a little tune to yourself?? lol and you hear the bird approaching to attack. Do you stop typing and humming and ride out the attack being as motionless and silent as possible or do you carry on humming and typing whilst the attack is ongoing. If its the first scenario that can be taken by the bird as a reaction to the attack. Its attack MADE you stop doing what you were doing.

If I think of anything else I'll get back to you.
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Re: Why's my parrot deliberately dive bombing me?

Postby ValleyGreenCheeks » Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:54 pm

I cant give much advice to this problem as I have never come across it before, but I just had to say, looking at your avatar pic, she looks like butter wouldn't melt!
And well done for getting her out of her plucking, that is one hard feat, but Clover looks great now :)
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