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GCC flighted aggression toward visitors

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GCC flighted aggression toward visitors

Postby Andromeda » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:14 pm

Okay, just a quick background on my bird first for a reference point: he is a re-home who spent his first year in a pet store and the next year and a half caged almost all of the time in his first home. He was 2 1/2 when my husband and I adopted him so we didn't have the opportunity to try to socialize him properly when he was very young.

I want to socialize him but he is aggressive toward visitors. I have read Michael's blog article about how to socialize a parrot and we have always started out with step one, which is "ignore the bird", but step two is "let the bird loose" and this is proving to be the problem.

I had my parents over to visit multiple times, they would always ignore Bubba for a while, then later I would take them in to visit and they would just talk to him in his cage. My sister visited multiple times and we did the same thing. He seemed okay with this.

After doing this for several weeks I thought I'd try to let him out of his cage. An hour into my parents' visit I opened his cage. He was in the den and they were in the living room, but he immediately flew from his cage into the living room, directly at my mother's neck. He landed on her shoulder and I grabbed him really quickly before he was able to latch on to her skin but he was definitely not just going to say "hi" because he managed a bite before I was able to grab him.

This was discouraging so I didn't let him out again while I had visitors but a few months ago when my sister was here I thought I'd give it another shot. This time as an intermediate step I moved him to a travel cage and let him sit with us in the living room about 10 feet away from us for about an hour. No one was approaching him, he was just hanging out. I finally went over and opened the cage at which point he immediately flew out of the cage and launched himself directly at my sister's neck. Again I grabbed him but he did get one bite off before I was able to remove him.

That was pretty much the end of letting him out with visitors, since I can't have visitors being attacked by my bird. He is a very, very sweet and cuddly bird with me and my husband. He never bites. I do positive reinforcement clicker training with him every day and he knows several tricks as well as flight recall. He really is a very good bird, and he is a tame bird, except for when I have visitors and then apparently he is a flighted, monstrous ball of aggression.

As a final note he is very good with the vet. He sees two different vets and he steps-up for them, he lets them give him head scratches, he never bites! It's just visitors in the home that are a problem, apparently.

Any advice is appreciated, I can't trust him to let him out when I have visitors so I don't really know how to try to socialize him because of that fact.
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Re: GCC flighted aggression toward visitors

Postby friend2parrots » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:45 am

Andromeda, I know exactly what you're going through, because I am working on the same problem with my :gcc: I am also very eager to read what advice others on the forum would offer for this situation.

In the meantime, I just wanted to share below my thoughts on this issue, in case it can be of any help:

From what I've read, the conures, both Pyrrhura and Aratingas, are naturally bold birds. what this means is that when stressed in any way, their proclivity toward the "fight" response, as opposed to the "flight" response, is very high. its this natural boldness that also makes them very clownish as pets and willing to do all kinds of wacky and funny things, because once socialized and taught to fear nothing, they are very confident and carefree birds.

so the boldness is both a good thing, and a bad thing. its a bad thing, when the bird has decided that a stressor in its environments neads dealing with. in my own situation, Ringo was a sweetie pie for five years, clownish and willing to play with anyone who came over our house because he saw it as all fun and games. (i.e. humans = yummy treats and lots of attention and neck scratches). since he had gotten used to people coming over as a baby, and also got used to going out places to see people in other environments, and get treats there, he was ok with people coming over for five years. but then after his spookout, everything changed. he began divebombing because he was stressed. so he was exhibiting the "fight" response.

things have improved tremendously, in that he's not divebombing us anymore, because we live with him, and I think he sees us as part of his territory again. but i'm in exactly the same situation as you when it comes to visitors. since his spookout, i have made sure to keep him in his cage when visitors come, because i just knew that he would try to divebomb them, and i didnt want him to get hurt (i've heard of cases where little birds like GCCs can get hurt if people reach out to remove them from their ears/necks)

I think in your case, Bubba's divebombing is an exhibition of territorialism (which is also a behavior of stress -response). if you look at it from a GCC's perspective, from a natural biological standpoint, it makes perfect sense. as a naturally bold species, Bubba is doing his best to protect his flock from these intruders.
perhaps what might help is taking Bubba over to your visitors houses (less familiar space for him) and letting him get used to the individuals first in a neutral space, on a regular basis, with lots of treats. Then he will start associating those individuals with treats. Once Ringo calms down a bit further, I am planning on doing that.

I have yet to think further on this challenge, as I'm still working on getting Ringo back to his old self, but if I have any further ideas, I will post them here!

Also, it would be great if others could post any advice for managing this type of aggression - thanks!
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Re: GCC flighted aggression toward visitors

Postby marie83 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:47 am

green cheeks are brats aren't they? lol

I've never had a problem regarding socialisation though, there are a few factors as to why that might be.
I got him at 7 weeks, he lived in my bedroom with me (nobody else ever went in there) but I often took him downstairs in the first few weeks to be around my mum/dad and sister. Whilst he never really interacted with them much he was never bothered by them either.
After this I started taking him up to my boyfriends, which he was fine with but again he didn't really interact with him until after I moved in a few months later. Ollie also met a couple of my friends but again there was no real interaction.
Once I moved in with bf he then was introduced to 3 children, again this went fine, no interaction as such on either side but eventually Ollie started going to them on his own accord. These days Ollie will allow anyone who is confident to handle him but will bite the more nervous in some circumstances.

So your post has got me thinking. What if it hadn't been this way and what has made him this way?
-maybe the move and travelling between places has reduced his territorial streak?
-maybe because are living room is larger than average he doesn't see it as "his space" as much as we were living in a smaller space?
-Why isn't he possessive over the person he is most bonded to? I wonder if its because he has a fairly equal bond with both me and my partner.
-is his lack of protectiveness because other people have essentially left him alone and let him call all the shots regarding letting him approach them and not the other way round so he has never associated other people with being a threat?
I have many other thoughts and questions but far too many to go into, besides that they all relate to my bird which isn't particarly helpful to your bird and your circumstances. However maybe a similar approach to analyze his history with other people/environment and previous training etc may be useful towards developing an approach which works for you?

I have to say I like the idea of you bringing him in the room in a travel cage, did you choose to do this in order to gradually decrease the distance between him and your guests or because he is not territorial over it?
what happens after this? Does he simply just get let out after a period of time? Or does the stranger approach the cage? perhaps offering a favorite treat/spend time chatting to him/getting him to target through the bars? Perhaps after a while if your guest is confident enough to, they could open the cage, get him to step up and bring him over to where they were sat.

Its hard to set a definite plan of action as you dont know how things are going to go with either the bird or your guest. May be you could bring one of your friends over specifically to help you with this issue if they are agreeable, if you know someone who is confident and 100% willing to listen to your instructions even if they are getting bitten :P
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Re: GCC flighted aggression toward visitors

Postby Michael » Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:18 pm

I can't get into gcc specific issues but all the ideas I have on the subject are summarized here:

What I have come to find is that if a parrot is willing to step up, be handled, and get grabbed by someone, then they are unlikely to bite them.
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