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HELP - Complete Behaviour Change

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HELP - Complete Behaviour Change

Postby Colin and Albert » Thu Oct 20, 2022 11:15 am

Hi Guys

It says there is no such thing as a Newbie but if there were, then I am the one!

I have never considered owning a bird before, much less an African Grey but inherited one under circumstances I will not bore you with. I was TOLD he was a HE and that he was “…around 5 years old” and despite my wife being the one who has an affinity with animals, “Albert” adopted ME! He ate when I ate, relished sitting on my shoulder, would “kiss” me whenever asked (and sometimes when not!) and would happily whistle and chat away to me all day long. He is not very good at flying, managing once round the room to find my shoulder once in a blue moon and occasionally, when spooked, fly into the nearest wall! He would also kiss my dogs, chat to my grandchildren and pinch their crisps and was generally, a contended and happy little chap.

Until recently.

One game he enjoyed was throwing plastic golf balls off the top of his cage and complaining until I put them back for him so he could throw them off again. For the last few weeks however, he has taken to sitting on the balls as if he were trying to hatch them. He is still OK with me, although he no longer wants to get on my shoulder, but has become VERY aggressive with my wife, especially if she tries to clean his cage (which is where his golf balls now are) or even reach in to change his food or water. His personality seems to have completely changed and he is not so eager to interact with us.

I am told the only way to truly know if he is indeed a SHE is an expensive DNA test which, as a pensioner, I can ill afford.

What should I do? If anything… Should I take the golf balls away? Find him a small bird’s egg to sit on instead? Find him a mate? Or just watch him suffer sitting on his “eggs” day and night waiting for them to hatch?

Please help as inherited or not, I do love “him”?
Colin and Albert
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 1
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: African Grey
Flight: Yes

Re: HELP - Complete Behaviour Change

Postby Pajarita » Fri Oct 21, 2022 11:27 am

Hi, Colin, Albert and wife, welcome to the forum.

Now, obviously the bird is not a male and I strongly believe, older than 5 (most likely, older than 8 or 10). Why do I say this? Because grays are usually low hormone birds and yours behaviors indicate it is overly hormonal which, with grays, only happens after 8 years or so of bad husbandry (human light schedule and diet too high in protein -meaning not enough veggies and fruits). Let me elaborate, grays are not cuddly birds, they don't kiss all the time and don't even like their body touched UNLESS they are in breeding condition. So, the first thing you need to do is to make sure you are keeping it at a strict solar schedule with a 2 hour exposure to dawn and dusk, and that her diet is a good one (no free-feeding protein food, absolutely NO animal protein -meat, eggs, cheese, etc- and offering veggies and fruits every morning with protein food being only for dinner and a measured portion at that). I have a 22 year old female, Sophie, and I feed her gloop and raw produce in the morning and nuts in the evening -she also gets a good multivitamin/mineral two or three times a week (this time of the year, being her breeding season, she gets it 3 times).

Let her sit on the 'eggs', don't take them away, just wait for her to abandon them on her own. Another thing, you can visually sex grays, there are a couple more differences between the genders (colors under the wings, shape of head, etc) but the wings are the dead giveaway, if they are as long as the tail (the tips of the wings 'rest' on the end of the tail feathers) it's a female, if the wings are shorter (the tips of the wings do not reach the end of the tail), you have a male.

Now, even though this is breeding season for grays (they are short-day breeders meaning they nest in the fall instead of the spring), yours is overly-hormonal and not 'normally-hormonal'. Why do I say this? Because only hormonal females (which going by the description of her behaviors prior her 'change, it seems to me she was already hormonal when you got her) are really affectionate. Grays are really not that affectionate (nobody would describe grays as 'cuddly') during the resting season (the time of the year when they are not producing sexual hormones). They will want to spend time on/with you, chat with you, accept a treat, etc but they will not want to spend ALL the time with you, insist on kisses or ask for caresses. They only do this when they are hormonal. BUT, even when the hens are hormonal, they are never aggressive... well, unless they had never been imprinted/socialized to humans (as in the case of ex-breeders) or severely neglected/abused. Her reaction to your wife now and before she started nesting indicates a degree of aggression that is not normal (my gray is fine not only with my husband but with the people she knows - she has never, ever, ever shown any aggression to anybody and it's not as if I raised her that way because she came to me when she was 6 years old and she had not lived in what one would describe as a good, nurturing environment). Mind you, Alberta is not to blame for this, she is in pain (her sexual organs are abnormally big) and animals in pain react with aggression most of the time.

So, my advice to you is to re-evaluate her light schedule and her diet and make sure they are what she needs and just wait her out because, if you do her light and her diet right, she will stop producing hormones sometime in December and will calm down and revert to her normal sweet temper.
Norwegian Blue
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 18631
Location: NW Pa
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: RoseBreasted too, CAG, DoubleYellowHead Amazon, BlueFront Amazon, YellowNape Amazon, Senegal, African Redbelly, Quaker, Sun Conure, Nanday, BlackCap Caique, WhiteBelly Caique, PeachFace lovebird, budgies,
Flight: Yes

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