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Senegal parrot flies to my shoulder to bite - advice?

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

Senegal parrot flies to my shoulder to bite - advice?

Postby Teddyninja » Wed May 11, 2016 4:06 pm

My new Senegal Parrot, Cilantro, loves to hang out on my shoulders but when she does, she nibbles at my neck. I think its her trying to preen me because she does the same to my hair. But the neck and ear bites really hurt, she drew blood on my neck yesterday. It does seem that she only bites after being taken out more than once a day. I would say im fairly good at not reacting and putting her back in her cage/on her playstand. I do think it will just take some time of training that biting doesnt yield any attention or positive stimulation. Although I dont think she actually knows she is hurting me.

I dont think she has a problem with me because when I leave the room she screeches quite loudly for her normal volume. She loves to spend time with me around the cage. Last night I read Treasure Island to her and she loved it and then went to sleep.

I aquired her off gumtree a week or two ago, the guy told me that she hated eating anything other than sunflower seeds, grapes and bits of apple. Since getting her, she's started eating pellets a little and trying lots of different foods. Im hoping to wean her onto a largely pellet based diet soon as her feathers have some dark streaks, so im worried about her nutritional health with a purely sunflower seed diet before. Is it possible she would have a fatty liver?

I do love her and accept that biting is part of having a parrot. I also understand that mostly bites would be my fault. But she does just fly over and bite and preen my hair. Obviously I cant just leave her in the cage all day forever. I want to have a positive relationship with my parrot and she does like me, but she doesnt know how to behave around me.

She's only hung out with me and my girlfriend together once and she stood on my girlfriends head and didnt bite her at all although she was terrified. But as soon as she came over to me, she started nibbling on me!

Any advice? Thanks for your time!
Nick and Cilantro
Teddyninja
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
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Re: Senegal parrot flies to my shoulder to bite - advice?

Postby Pajarita » Thu May 12, 2016 11:06 am

Well, two weeks is nothing. She doesn't trust you yet and that's why she bites you (she does know she is hurting you and she is not preening you). She needs to be kept at a strict solar schedule with full exposure to dawn and dusk and fed fresh food every day. I have been doing research on parrots diets for over 20 years and have reached the conclusion that pellets are NOT the best dietary option for parrots (I can tell you what I found out if you are interested). I feed mine (I have two senegals, one male, one female, as well as other species) gloop and raw produce for breakfast and a good quality seed/nut mix for dinner with some vitamins added to their gloop once or twice a week (depends on the season).

You don't say how old she is but with bars on her plumage and a previous diet of sunflower seeds, I would take her to an avian vet for a complete physical with bile acids, if I were you.

She needs to be out, at least, 4 hours a day with 2 hours of one-on-one with you (or whoever will end up been her chosen human). To give you an example, this time of the year, I open my senegals cage at 5:30 am and put them back in it around noon (I just did it, as a matter of fact) for their mid-day nap (parrots always rest or nap around noon). They do go in at 8 am for a couple of hours so they can eat their gloop (they start eating their produce when I first give it to them, at around 6:30 am) and I can do the upstairs parrots but I open their cage again when I come downstairs. As the days grow longer, they will start coming out for another 2 or 3 hours in the afternoon, too.
Pajarita
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Re: Senegal parrot flies to my shoulder to bite - advice?

Postby Teddyninja » Thu May 12, 2016 11:32 am

Thanks, I would be very interested in your findings on parrot diets!

I was told the parrot is just turning 1 year old this month, so I wouldn't be too worried about long term damage. Unless you believe otherwise as this is just my personal opinion, please let me know.

I would love to have her out more but its difficult when all she wants to do is come over and bite me. I gave her some one on one time this morning and she started to learn that stepping up onto my hand is much more rewarding than flying to my shoulder. I had to wear a glove for this, which she bit a few small holes in at first, but after a good few tries she stopped.

Also, she has started to turn around on command! Which is very exciting!

Would it be helpful to clip her wings during the first part of forming a trust bond? I feel like it would be easier if she couldn't just fly to my shoulders whenever she wants to. But I would also feel like she could hurt herself as she has never had her wings clipped before.

She is making progress and our trust bond is developing, she is trying new foods everyday and her general health seems like it is definitely improving. We put some ice in a water bowl for her today (It's quite hot today in Birmingham, UK) and she had a bath and whistled a bit! She is definitely trusting me more, but I would rather not get bitten every 20 minutes while we develop our trust bond.

Of course, if that's the way it has to be while she learns to trust me, then I can accept that. But if there's a way I can get her to stop faster, I would like that obviously! :thumbsup:
Teddyninja
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Re: Senegal parrot flies to my shoulder to bite - advice?

Postby Wolf » Thu May 12, 2016 6:43 pm

I am not sure if she is biting or beaking too hard, neither is very desireable to be sure. Try placing a towel around your neck and see if that helps. Just so you know I am leaning towards biting with your description of biting your hands. If she is, indeed biting your neck on purpose then there will not be any doubt that it is intentional if she is anything like my Senegal, because she will bite chunks of skin out of you.
Wolf
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Re: Senegal parrot flies to my shoulder to bite - advice?

Postby Pajarita » Fri May 13, 2016 11:21 am

I do not believe in clipping a parrot unless there is a medical reason for it. It doesn't really do anything for their aggression (why would it? it's not as if handicapping her is going to endear you to her, right?) except that, as you pointed out, they cannot fly up to you - but, for that to happen, you would have to give her a very severe clip which is a VERY dangerous thing to do... especially if the bird has always been flighted (they fall like a rock to the ground!).

I have found that the best way to avoid getting bit is to prevent them from it by either placing an obstacle (as Wolf, suggested, putting a rolled up towel around your neck or wearing a hoodie, like my husband does), distracting them (a bit hard to do with a brand new bird) or avoiding them (keep your eye on her at all times and, if you see her flying to your shoulders, duck!). If one sticks to strict routines (so the bird can predict when something is going to happen), good husbandry (light schedule, diet, etc) and persists on been patient, the bird stops the aggression. It's as simple as that. The one thing one needs to keep in mind with parrots is that everything takes time -and I do mean EVERYTHING. People who want quick results should never get a parrot - it would be incredibly frustrating :lol:

This is what I found out about pellets:
1. Most of them use the cheapest source of protein available: soy (the only one that doesn't is Tops), a known allergen with both goitropic and estrogenic side-effects (I don't feed soy to any of my animals and, if you look at the more expensive and better dog and cat food, you will find that none of them has it).
2. Most of them don't use human grade ingredients (the only one that does it is Tops)
3. Most of them simply add man-made vitamins and minerals to them (the only one that doesn't is Tops) and, even leaving aside the synergy of natural combinations of them in a single piece of fruit and take them one by one, we now know that bodies do not utilize man-made as effectively as food-derived ones.
4. Not a single one of them gives you any exact nutritional values, everything is 'lower than', 'higher than' or 'min of this' and 'max of this'
5. They normally use bad sources of fiber (psyllium or chaff)
6. Their formula is identical to all species with just different sizes and we all know that an amazon' diet is not the same as Gray's diet
6. ALL OF THEM are DRY DRY DRY DRY!!!!! And this is the biggest problem I see because parrot diets in the wild have a water content of 85 to 95% - pellets are max 10% -a HUGE difference!

See, the thing is that because parrots are supposed to derive most of their hydration needs from their diet (all plant material) and because they are prey animals, nature hardwired them to drink very little and never often (they need to go to ground for this and it's a dangerous thing to do in the wild) so giving them a diet that is so dry would, inevitably, draw moisture from their own internal tissue which will, in time, create a kidney problem as the bird would live in a state of subclinical (mild) dehydration (we learned this the hard way by feeding cats dry kibble and having them drop like flies from renal failure).

Now, one could argue that one can feed a very limited amount of pellets and supplement their diet with fresh and soft food to 'balance' things out but, if you are going to have to shop, prepare and serve the a homemade food on a daily basis, why bother paying an arm and a leg for pellets which parrots normally don't even like?

I came up with gloop many years ago after having my first rescue bird diagnosed with high uric acid. The avian vet wanted to give her medicine for it (they always go the medicine route but I like to take a more natural approach) and, when I researched it (allopurinol), I discovered that it's VERY bad for their liver so I needed to come up with a diet that would reduce protein as well as increase hydration as well as allow me to add herbs that would help with her kidneys and gloop was the solution. It is, as pellets are, made out of whole grains but not ground and compressed and they are super infused with water as well as partially cooked (which increases digestibility). Then I use not only organic but also human grade ingredients and the frozen veggies provide natural vitamins and minerals instead of something made in a lab. I find that this is the closest I could come to their natural diets... We can't, of course, feed them exactly the same things the eat in the wild but we can feed them something that would resemble it if not in its actual form, at least the nutritional components of it. And pellets are not it.
Pajarita
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Re: Senegal parrot flies to my shoulder to bite - advice?

Postby Wolf » Sat May 14, 2016 9:05 am

Kiki, Senegal came to me just on the last part of her go round with puberty and adulthood. She came here after escaping from a bad home situation and demanded Sanctuary as well as food and water. At the time we only knew that she was a parrot and from a tropical region and that she could not long survive the cold nights here in the mountains in the early spring. So although we didn't have the required knowledge we let her in and proceeded to learn from research as well as from her. She was not a very gentle teacher as it was, step out of line and chomp one more chunk of flesh removed over the infraction.

For the first month it appeared that she was going to bond with my Lady, but after another month or there about she decided to bond with me, This did nothing to improve her outlook or reduce the amount of flesh and blood that she exacted from me. I really think that she was Pissed at the type of treatment that she had received from the last humans that had her and that she was exacting payment for their transgressions from me. She seemed to think that while she needed us to survive that she had already decided that humans were simply not to be trusted.

Although I never mistreated her in any way, that I am aware of, it took a year before she decided to give me a chance. In a way, it was very funny in how she chose to end her blood feud with humans. The very first thing that she did on that morning after being let out of her cage was to fly over and attack my hands and arms, which for her at the time was normal, and as usual I calmly set her down next to me, telling her to no bite and be gentle and then leave her alone. Well this was not going to work with her on this morning. I realized this as well as that something was different as she immediately turned around and very resolutely stomped back up onto my arm. Once there and standing firmly on my arm she made a semi fast clicking sound ( this was new) and then she bowed her head and just touched my arm with her beak, I waited for the usual chomp, which did not come, so since she remained waiting for a head scratch, I took the chance and reached slowly to give her the head scratch that she was asking for. But she then raised her head and opened her beak wide like she was intending to bite me again. I stopped and she again made the clicking noise and again bowed her head and placed her beak firmly on my arm, so again I reached to scratch her head and again I was met with that gaping beak, again I stopped, but this time I did not withdraw my hand. I waited a minute and then slowly continued to move my hand closer to her and she quickly reached out and grabbed my finger in her beak. I waited for that searing flash of pain from her bite, but it did not come, instead she just held onto my finger and then let it go. I pulled my hand back and she repeated the asking for a head scratch and I went to give it to her and even though I hesitated a little when met with that open beak I continued and again she grabbed my finger and held it for a minute or two before letting it go and I went ahead and scratched her head. This, by no means ended all of the bites that I was still destined to receive, but it significantly reduced the number of bites as well as the severity of the bites. It was almost as if she was telling me that she had been mistreated and here I was asking her to trust me, so she mistreated me and she was now asking me to trust her. Sort of like see how this feels when it is done to you. Kiki and I have had a good relationship since that time.

I don't think that you will experience anything like I did, but it does go to show just how intelligent these birds are and it also illustrates that trust is a two way street and that sometimes to get their trust you have to give the very trust that you are asking for.
Sometimes knowing the birds past and how it was treated will provide some insight into why they behave in the ways that they do. I don't know how the bird was treated by the people that had it last and it could have been treated just fine and that this biting is just because it does not yet trust you and if you are working on training this soon after getting the bird you could be moving faster than your bird is ready for. I know that for at least the first month, the only thing that I focus on is winning the birds trust and training comes in second place. Training can help to deepen a bond or the level of trust, but training can't build the trust or create the bonding.
Wolf
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Re: Senegal parrot flies to my shoulder to bite - advice?

Postby seagoatdeb » Sat May 14, 2016 7:04 pm

Yeah Wolf I believe they need to heal, and take out things on others to get it out of their system. When I got Gaugan my Red Belly Poi, she was attacking humans, very afraid of them after they amputated her toe. She took to me imediately upon seeing me and me talking to her. She still remained distrustfull of everyone else. She would never bite me but everyone else would have to watch themselves. I could really do no wrong, she just looked at me with so much love in her eyes, she just melted my heart, and she still does. Other people would get bit out of the blue, and would have to work very long and hard to form a relationship with her. My daughter once said, "you feel really honored when Gaugan decides she likes you." I had a lot of other parrots, at the time i brought her home, and she learned to tolerate them, but she made sure they gave her "space"

When i brought her home she only wanted to be on me and when i would approach her cage, she would start to put pressure on my finger and the closer i would get to her cage the more pressure she would exert. She was a velcroe parrot from the first day. After a few weeks, i began to take her on outings, thinking she needed more in her life than just being on me all day. Luckily in Victoria, there were a couple of bird pet stores that let you bring your parrrots in on your shoulder, so there were safe places she could ride on my shoulder and they had given her a severe clip, she could only glide down, so i was her transportation, untill she got used to climbing everything. She had to build up her strength, as the antibiotics she was given had left her with a yeast infection and she was underweight. We needed lots of trips to the vet in the beginnig.

The first time i went away for a week trip, Gaugan had a hard time with it. My daughter was able to handle her by then, and they got along fine. My daughter told me she just looked so unhappy in her cage, so she let her out. Gaugan was not very active she said and when it was time to put her in her cage she bit my daughters finger very hard drawing blood, and leaving a scar. My daughter was so surpised she shook her hand and Gaugan glided to the floor, and then ran after my daughter biting and pecking at her toes. my daughter manage to finally pick her up in a towel while Gaugan continued to try to bite as my daughter held her upside down, finally when she stopped her attacking my daughter was able to put her back in the cage. Gaugan was having a hard time with me being gone. When i got back, she acted so happy to see me. Guagan got used to my small trips and eventually trusted i would come back. She is a very happy well adjusted parrot these days, 17 years later, with a full life, lots of affection and lots of playfull antics. She travels well, so when i can take her on a trip with me, i do. Her outings with me mean a lot to her.
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