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Gnawing on Fingers, Especially Nails

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

Re: Gnawing on Fingers, Especially Nails

Postby jparrothead » Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:54 pm

This is an important thread and one very relevant to my 4 month old Green Cheeked Conure. Darwin, like the Quakers, both seem to enjoy this 'chewing'--I would distinguish it, like Pajarita, from a bite, as it does not seem in anger at all, and mine is affectionate, steps up, and bonded (or bonding).

The chewing--or beaking, rather--is a problem though. I have read that this is so from GCC's (and Pajarita and others have confirmed this!!) and can happen again in the 'terrible two's' stage (somewhere between 1 and 2 years old).

The biggest issue is that Darwin 'bit' my friend--actually, beaked, but to her, it was a bite that left a black and blue mark and some raised skin. She is not me and obviously not the parrot's bonded person, and it was NOT in anger, but it hurt her enough to not want to try it again any time soon. That is sad to me, but I understand.

I want to do the right thing, and use the right techniques. I have seen first hand how a parrot can dominate in a relationship and turn from 'beaking' to biting, and then all seems lost.

But there is so much conflicting advice. Don't react, React. Don't say anything, Say something softly. Put it in the cage, Dont put in the cage. Touch the Beak, Don't touch the Beak.

A whole thread could probably be written on the subject of 'conflicting advice' alone! That tells me that there are likely many ways to deal with this--and other issues, too.

Right now, when the chew/chomp beaking happens--several times a day, I out my other hand's fingers on the gap between the lower and upper portions of the beak and very gently un-chomp them. That stops it, at least immediately. Sometimes it won't happen again for an hour. Sometimes it will happen in a just a few minutes.

If this is truly a stage, I can deal with it, and then regain confidence for a few close friends with target training and the usual methods. But I want to deal with this right. I see this as the first major challenge, 10 days in to having Darwin home. Any advice or thoughts are welcome!
jparrothead
Lovebird
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 40
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Green Cheeked Conure (Yellow-Sided)
Flight: No

Re: Gnawing on Fingers, Especially Nails

Postby Pajarita » Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:20 pm

You are sooooooo very right about the conflicting information on how to deal with birds! Some times, people just repeat what other people say without actually having any personal experience with the specific issue that is been addressed but they are trying to help so one can't really blame them. And you also have to take into consideration that we have not only changed A LOT in the way we treat pet birds in the last twenty years, it also depends on how the person regards the animal (meaning, as a pet or as a companion). Personally, I've never had a baby bird. All my birds are rehomes, rescues and a couple of adoptions so most of the birds I have came to me with issues and they were all adults so, when they bit, they BIT. There was nipping and there was biting, not beaking. But, in truth, I consider beaking the mildest of all three because it's more in terms of a learning curve than anything else.

All I can do is share what my experience as been as all my aggressive birds have stopped biting me on a regular basis (there is the occasional fly at my head incident from the male zons when I get too close to their nest during breeding season and the every-now-and-then lunge from the doo-doo head male sun conure but no real bites). Now, some of the ones that became tame again started their 'way back' with nipping or something that I think it's similar to beaking where they would hold my finger in their beak and start putting pressure and this was not a baby experimenting, it was 100% deliberate, kind of like pushing the envelope to see how far they could go with me and I've always done the same thing: when they start putting more pressure than they should, I tell them No! in a firm voice and then say softly Gently, gently... If they continue with the pressure I would take my finger off their beak and ignore them for a while but, if they let go or decrease the pressure, I would praise them and not with just a Good bird!, either! I go on and on and on about it. It might not sound like a real training exercise but it works for me. Mind you, most of these birds were in a bonding stage with me when this was happening, I've never gotten a single nip from a bird that is already bonded to me.

As to your bird biting your friend, well, babies are not supposed to interact with strangers (they certainly don't do it in the wild), they fear them as any baby animal would instinctively fear any unknown element for the simple reason that it might mean danger to them so, most likely, the bite was because the baby was afraid of her and this was the only way to show it. Explain this to her and tell her to allow the bird to become familiar with her and to wait until the bird makes the first step toward a closer interaction with her.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17777
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Gnawing on Fingers, Especially Nails

Postby Snippy2020 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:24 pm

My green cheeked conure will be 3months on July 4th and we have had him it will be 3 weeks this Sunday and he has been trying to bite the tips on my fingernails and sometimes it’s a little hard and hurts but so far he hasn’t brought any blood and I was also wondering how to handle this. Most of the time i just try to distract him with something he can bite on or i will just hide my nails so he doesn’t see them. Other than that he never tries to bite any other body parts even when sitting on my shoulder, just my nails for some reason. I’m wondering if maybe it’s the color or if that matters at all? I may try a different color just to see though. I definitely don’t want him thinking his cage is a place of punishment but rather a safe place.
Snippy2020
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 1
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Yellow sided green cheeked conure
Flight: No

Re: Gnawing on Fingers, Especially Nails

Postby Pajarita » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:38 am

Well, for one thing, you should never allow a bird to chew on nail enamel (I don't wear anything, no make-up, no nail color, no jewelry, no perfume, no creams or lotions - NOTHING!) but the chewing it is doing is perfectly normal as long as it's not too often - in which case, I would suspect hunger (you are feeding it the appropriate food for a baby and handfeeding it at least twice a day, right?). Parrots use their beaks as hands as well as 'mouths', and the same way a human baby will put everything in its mouth, a baby parrot will put everything in its beak. They use it to learn the texture, hardness, consistency AND the flavor of things but, just like babies, they do not know their own strength so, if it puts too much pressure, you need to gently stop it. I use the phrase: "Be gentle..." but you can use whatever word or phrase you want - just make sure you use it all the time when it happens and that you only use it for this action and this action alone. When it does it, gently move its beak away from your fingernail, repeating the command you choose to use and give it something to play with, instead.

Cages only become 'safe places' for birds that are not treated right. A happy, healthy, well-cared for bird will never consider its cage a 'safe place' because it will not need to find safety in it.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17777
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

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