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Pionus- incessant clucking/honking

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Pionus- incessant clucking/honking

Postby flappybird » Sat Jan 30, 2016 8:51 am

Luna is quickly becoming a problem in the mornings and when she is with Michael. I'm at a loss as to what to do.

It used to be she was quiet in the mornings until I went to get her out of her sleep cage, now she alternately chirps and does her loud scream at the same time everyday. This is fine, she wants to get up, I just don't know why she uses her loudest scream to do it. And if I don't come immediately it gets worse. I try to go over there between the screams.

The real problem comes in when we do our morning routine of hanging out in the bedroom until we get up proper. The problem is she has gotten into the habit of INCESSANTLY clucking and honking in a repetitive pattern of 3-6 counts/beats and then silence for a couple counts. There is NOTHING that makes her stop this. If I take her to her cage she will just scream until we get her back. It's infuriating and I don't know how we got to this point. The problem persists when I leave and Michael stays home with her. She NEVER stops. Unless she is eating or sleeping she is honking and clucking uncontrollably. She doesn't even do her tail and wing wiggle dance while making the noise. And in fact the noise is a little different when she is doing "the dance". I can't figure out what's going on but I am at a complete loss. I don't know what I did wrong. He can't get anything done and the sound is terrible. We love all other sounds she makes and have no problem interacting with her otherwise but we don't want to reinforce this behavior that now seems so pervasive.

I just made her new batch of food but I'm wondering if I should make a new one with just grains and vegetables and eliminate all extrAs (chia, sesame, hemp seeds, flax) maybe that's too much protein? It's only about a 1/4 cup total for a 2.5 week batch. It's the only thing I can think of.

We used to have a great routine. Someone please shed some light if you can.
flappybird
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Re: Pionus- incessant clucking/honking

Postby Wolf » Sat Jan 30, 2016 9:40 am

While I am suspecting that this is related to a mating behavior, that is just speculation. Would you be able to make a video of this behavior for us to see and then either link us to it or post it on the forum?
Due to my suspicion concerning why your bird is doing this, I do have a question or so. The first is probably just that I have forgotten the answers, was she DNA tested as female or was there some other method used to determine the sex? What is her age? And what is happening when she begins to make these sounds? I suppose that I am primarily asking is she being petted at the time in any place other than her head and neck?

All living animals require at least a specific level of protein determined by many factors such as species, age, physical condition and activity levels as well as where they are in relation to their reproductive cycle. The only way that we can determine any of the nutrient levels in the food that you are providing her is to know what the recipe is. Based on the amount that you say that you are giving her of this particular food, it is obviously only a very small portion of her total diet. So before I could make any accurate recommendations regarding her diet, I would need to know what the rest of her diet consists of. My Senegal parrot Kiki eats close to 1/4 cup of gloop every day and she is smaller than your bird. Kiki is about 1 to 1 1/2 inches shorter and weighs almost half of what a Blue Headed Pionus weighs. Kiki also is provided fresh fruits and vegetable, an almond, and her seed mix for dinner which is also about 1/4 cup daily.
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Re: Pionus- incessant clucking/honking

Postby flappybird » Sat Jan 30, 2016 6:02 pm

Here's a video of her doing the noise at regular intervals. You'll notice she looks a little fluffed up, she tends to look like this while doing the noise. I've also noticed that she does less of the "chicken clucking dance" that I've described in other posts, where she puts her tail in the air and wiggles her wings, and has resorted mostly to doing this noise and a bit of head bobbing. It's like she swapped the behaviors.

She does the noise in the video while not being touched at all, and in response to your suspicions, I try and make sure I keep touching the rest of her body to a minimum, and try to pet just her head and base of her head feathers.

https://youtu.be/AsClsRVaUVU
I'd like to post a video of her doing the different "hormonal clucking" noise, but she doesn't do it that often anymore.

Tonight for the first time, Michael and I are speculating that maybe this is how she asks for affection when she really wants it, because she does want to be petted during these times, and doesn't mind being held close. I comply, and pet her a lot (which for the record is strange because she likes being petted only a few times a day, and is usually not persistent about it at all).

Other new things that have happened lately is that she is becoming more independent. That is, she is making use of the ladder that has always been on her cage and using it to climb down and explore, also to come into other rooms when we go away for a few minutes. It used to be she climbed down VERY rarely and would never walk around if she couldn't see us.

As a reminder, she is about 10 years old and we've had her for 6 months. She has not been DNA'ed, but her previous owners suspect she is female, and I agreed based on her "butt/wing wiggle dance" mating behavior.

I feel like I've done a really good job in previous posts of describing what she eats, but I'll do it again.
All batches are really similar.
I chopped all this up in the food processor, and it makes 2.5 ice trays, which lasts us about two weeks and 3 days. She eats one, standard (trapezoidal, not shallow oval) ice cube sized portion in the morning, and one at night. ( I will add here that I still haven't really figured out how much I'm supposed to be feeding her, but she usually finishes her entire portion. I have yet to buy a scale, but am curious about it because she seems a tiny bit more plump than she was when we got her.)

I supplement with the occasional almond, walnut piece, pumpkin seed, pistachio, dried figs, and assorted fruit (banana, blueberry, blackberries, strawberries, papaya, mango, pomegranate, starfruit, orange, pears, apples, plums, etc), or sprinkle of sprouts (bird specific mix, and mung beans). Sometimes I'll sprinkle some Harrison's pellets (because I still have some left) in her food bowl at night or in a foraging treat). She usually gets a tiny,tiny nibble of whatever I'm eating if I happen to be at home at the time during the day.

The one I just made a couple days ago has:
kale, watercress, broccoli, red peppers, green beans, carrots, carrot tops, steamed sweet potato, wild rice & lentil mix (1/2 cup cooked total). Ground flaxseed, sesame seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds (those last four amount to a 1/4 cup total). A couple tablespoons of a dried nettle leaf and bee pollen mix. About a 1/4 cup of cornmeal. About a 1/4 cup of steel cut oats (this time they were uncooked, sometimes I cook them). A couple tablespoons of ground milk thistle seed, because I had it lying around. 1/8 cup of millet.

Other ingredients I have added in the past: different peppers, spinach, chard, parsnips, ginger, jalapenos, butternut or acorn squash, almond meal, sprouted spelt flour, different kinds of lentils, farro, and more stuff that I can't remember.

I don't put fruit in the mix because I like to add it fresh when I have it.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Pionus- incessant clucking/honking

Postby Wolf » Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:43 am

I am quite sure that you have done a wonderful job in describing what you feed and so forth and you have done wonderfully in answering every question that has been asked. Please forgive me for my asking, but it is due to the fact that in addition to taking care of my birds, and all of the research that I do, I also answer and ask a lot of questions here on this forum as well as other forums that are parrot related and this has the drawback of my not always remembering every detail of every bird or their humans. So that is not your problem, it is mine, although it does impact you to some degree because I sometimes ask for an update on the information that you have given, maybe a bit too often. Still I would rather be in error by asking than by assuming wrongly. I would think that you might prefer this as well.

Your bird looks great and the level of feather fluff suggests to me that your bird is relaxed and very comfortable. Due to the feathers I really cant tell anything actually about your birds weight but you can check it out by feeling for the keel bone in the birds chest. The muscle mass on either side of the keel bone should feel firm and it should allow you to feel the keel bone but the keel bone should not feel like it is sticking up,( an under weight condition) nor should it be recessed ( an over weight condition ). The average weight for this species is between 234 and 295 grams, count on just a little variance in this as it is just an average.

Your bird is definitely asking for something, although there does not appear to be any indication of what it is at least to me. You really should get a scale for weighing your bird because it is very hard and usually inaccurate to guess their weight visually and because weight loss is usually one of the first indications of illness in our birds. Sometimes right at first it is the only indication that we have. Now, I understand about not wanting to be wasteful as I don't like it either, but I am concerned that you may need to feed your bird a bit more than you are currently feeding it as you are saying that he eats it all, which is a good thing, but he may need a little bit more and this means that he may be asking for more food. Given that it is my opinion as well as a general consensus that a parrot should always have a little food left over when you change out their food at the next meal and given that my Senegal despite being much smaller eats much more than your bird, I would try increasing the amount of food that you are giving him and see what he does and if this behavior ceases or not.

There is also the possibility that he is requesting more interaction time with you.

I do not see any indication that the diet of your bird would have any excess in either fat, carbs or protein, so I think that you are doing well in that area. but I would be cautious about feeding too much Kale, spinach, watercress ( which I dearly love ), and figs as all of these items are high in iron and birds do not require much iron and too much can translate into iron storage issues so I don't give my birds any of these items more than once a month.

I hope that you will find this helpful. OH and by the way if you increase the amount of food and it helps with the behavior, if there is a little left over food, you can always put it outside for the local birds to clean up as that eliminates any wasted food. I do this constantly.
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Re: Pionus- incessant clucking/honking

Postby Pajarita » Sun Jan 31, 2016 2:13 pm

She sounds hormonal to me... I am not 100% clear on the ratio between all the different ingredients but chia, hemp and polen are super high in protein so if you are feeding high protein, keeping her at an inadequate light schedule and she is at an 'interesting' age...
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Re: Pionus- incessant clucking/honking

Postby flappybird » Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:35 pm

Wolf wrote:I am quite sure that you have done a wonderful job in describing what you feed and so forth and you have done wonderfully in answering every question that has been asked. Please forgive me for my asking, but it is due to the fact that in addition to taking care of my birds, and all of the research that I do, I also answer and ask a lot of questions here on this forum as well as other forums that are parrot related and this has the drawback of my not always remembering every detail of every bird or their humans. So that is not your problem, it is mine, although it does impact you to some degree because I sometimes ask for an update on the information that you have given, maybe a bit too often. Still I would rather be in error by asking than by assuming wrongly. I would think that you might prefer this as well.


Oh! It wasn't a big deal at all, I'm sorry if I sounded annoyed and prompted you to give such a formal apology/explanation... haha.

Thanks for the suggestions... I never really know quite how much food to give her. I keep thinking she'll quit eating when she's full but other times I just think she'll eat whatever I give her and I don't want to make her sick or overweight if she's not that active at home. As for the kale / other greens, I try to include one or two varieties of "greens" because I thought that was a good way to make sure she gets iron/calcium, and on Pajarita's advice on a previous post, I make sure it's not too many varieties in each batch because apparently some conflicting ingredients would cause the opposite and not give her enough calcium.

I just felt her keel bone for maybe the first time, and I would say it's a hair out from being even with the chest muscle mass, as in, maybe more food would be good! When I first got her I was feeding her more and there was frequently a little left over (not always).
@Pajarita - if the chia, pollen, sesame, flax mix totals to 1/4 cup per batch, and the wild rice and lentils mix totals to about 1/2 cup cooked (mostly rice, less lentils), then you can safely assume the rest of the batch is chopped veggies in roughly equal amounts.

I would say there's about 1/4 cup each of the other dry, binding ingredients, like cornmeal / oats / almond meal / spelt flour / whatever I'm using. The sweet potato portion in this batch was I'd say one small to medium potato.

Yes, the sounds remind us a lot of her other 'hormonal' sounds... mostly I'm just worried that she is uncomfortable or suffering, and I just want to know how to control that situation. It's not 'breeding season' which is when most people complain of hormonal behavior (which people report is accompanied by things like toy masturbation or aggressive behavior, neither of which she displays), so I just don't know what's up or what I can change.

I'd say she's on as close a light schedule as I can keep her. She wakes up by herself and is able to see sunrise through the big window she sleeps next to, and I put her to bed as close to sundown as I can (depending on whether Michael is here and he does it right on time, or I get home from work and its less than 1/2 hour late). She is usually asking to go to bed at the right time anyway. So I want to say that this is not the issue? Hopefully?

I'm curious about what you said about this being an interesting age. Elaborate?
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Re: Pionus- incessant clucking/honking

Postby flappybird » Mon Mar 13, 2017 4:48 pm

Hello All!

I'm reviving this thread in the hopes that maybe there is new information. I was surprised to see I started it over a year ago.

Luna is still doing the horrible honking noise. [ see youtube video in previous post on this thread] I've always been able to put up with it, especially because she does it the most when she's hanging out with Michael and not as much with me. For the past few days, however, Michael has been home sick, and I had a couple days off, so we've been spending all our time with her and I've noticed just how bad her honking is. She has spent 80% of today making the noise. I can't figure out what she wants and it's driving us crazy.

Last year Wolf recommended maybe feeding her more, which we started doing, and then after a yearly vet visit in October (different vet than last time just to see what they would say) we once again got the recommendation to balance out her diet with a bigger percentage of pellets. So we added some more, and gave her slightly more to snack on during the day when we're out of the house. It's been so long so I can really remember, but my impression is that the noises didn't come as often, but now that I think about it it's probably because it's most apparent when she's home alone with Michael.

This week I noticed she actually looks a little heavier than she's been the whole time we've had her. I felt her keel bone and the flesh around it is starting to stick out ever so slightly. At the same time, she seems obsessed with food. She keeps climbing down from her cage and running to the kitchen (because she knows that's where it comes from) and is constantly looking for things to eat around her cage and play areas. I don't want to overfeed her. Does it make sense that she's honking to get more food, yet is overeating and gaining weight?

All of this has got me thinking that we've gotten her used to our full attention when we're around, because we're usually not around all day. So at this point, it's impossible to leave her in her cage for short periods of time if we're in the house, even when we're in sight. She HAS to be with us (usually Michael) which is usually not a problem, except for the loud, non-stop honking. All of her activities always seem hormonal to me, but they don't seem seasonal. I wonder what her non-hormonal state is, and if she's ever in one.

As for her light schedule, she wakes up with the sunrise (her sleep cage is next to a window and it's not completely covered), and makes a racket when it's time for bed at sundown. She also gets a sunlight bulb (the kind y'all have recommended on this forum in the past) during the sunniest parts of the day while I'm at work most days.
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Re: Pionus- incessant clucking/honking

Postby liz » Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:36 am

I have my bird light on a timer to keep me from messing up their schedule.

I over feed their meals. Leftover go to the squirrel who comes to the front door on schedule every morning. Nothing is wasted. Even left over food and veggies are given to the squirrel.

It would be great if we had a translater to know what they are saying. Rainbow has the advantage that he knows enough words to get is idea across. Following my daughter through the house she was constantly under her feet. She asked him "what do you want" and her reply was "pick this boy up". Myrtle has not learned enough to tell me what is up so she just torments me until I figure it out.

To me your birds clucking is like Myrtle's baby blabber.
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Re: Pionus- incessant clucking/honking

Postby Wolf » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:20 am

It has been a long time since you started this thread and I just went back and re=read the whole thing including the video. I would think that if the birds keel bone is starting to become more prominant that the bird needs more food. It may not even be a matter of not getting enough volume of food, it could be that the bird needs a slightly higher level of protein or carbohydrates. This is just one of the many possibilities for what this behavior is about, but there are several other possible answers to this.

After my last post I was hoping that one or more of our other members with more experience with this species of parrot would have spoken up just in case this was a species trait. I was hoping for this as I do not have this species of parrot. Perhaps they thought the problem was solved since you did not continue to post about it, I don't know. It is also possible that this has more to do with the individual personality of the bird than with any other trait, however I can't help but to think that there was or still is a reason for the behavior and that it may be being reinforced in some manner keeping the behavior alive.

One of the things that has always appeared in the descriptions of this behavior is that it always appears to be more prevalent in the presence of Michael. I would look closely at Michaels behaviors and responses beginning with before the start of this behavior, through it as well as after it begins as it is possible that it is being inadvertently reinforced by his reactions. This may not be the case at all but it is a place to start anew. Also please remind us of the birds age and whether it is clipped or not.

I know that it is frustrating and even more so with the back and forth trying to discover why your bird is behaving this way, but if we don't keep looking, asking questions and trying different things we may never find out why and resolve this issue. As long as you do not give up and you keep us informed we will keep tying to find the answer. If you quit responding to us then we will think that the problem has been solved so please keep us informed about any progress or not.
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Re: Pionus- incessant clucking/honking

Postby liz » Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:26 am

If you want her to eat more then feed her what you have that is legal while you are eating. Mine are free roaming (which creates other problems). I have found they will eat when they are hungry. Mostly when I give them a fresh plate. They also eat when I am eating and want what I have. When I can't share what I have I have taught them the word "mine". They don't like it but will go back to their own food so they can eat when I do.
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