A bit about a bird or two, or a quest for commiseration, perhaps. - Talk Parrots Forums

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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-04-2014, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
 
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A bit about a bird or two, or a quest for commiseration, perhaps.

Hello.

A preamble to add context in re: other posts of mine: I brought home two clipped green-cheeked conures four days ago. I can’t stand the idea of birds in cages, especially healthy, lively ones, so they have been free for the most part as of yesterday, against all advice—I simply feel ethics trumps overly-cautious when dealing with captive animals. Their diet has improved drastically (fruit, veg, TOP) and they have been moved from a 9pm to 9am quasi-dark/noisy schedule to a 7 then 6 then 5pm to 6am completely dark/silent schedule. The parrotlet is fine with all of this, if not overjoyed, in case anyone is wondering

Since I brought them home, the conures have been a delight. Stepping-up, hanging out on the shoulders, helping/hindering me prep their food. One dances and allows me to hold him on his back, the other has had a tenderness towards me that leaves me on the verge of tears. They’ve been talking to me, happy with me, in all honesty: being more stereotypically ‘parrot-like’ in a positive sense than my dearest parrotlet will probably ever be (the sweet, loving, shoulder munchkin that she is… My word, I love that little bird).

Later today everything suddenly went south with the conures. Neither will step up, one viciously attacks me instead (if I attempt to offer a step-up to the other, she moves away while her mate runs from wherever to attack me—just this morning they both would fight to step-up to me first). It is such a drastic change from the previous days (I was almost prepared to post yesterday about how amazing I was finding the green-cheek experience).

What a maniacal world these birds bring

I suppose I just felt the need to write this out in order to feel better. The bigger bird bit me so viciously on the neck earlier I thought I was going to begin crying while remaining composed outwardly in order to get him back on his perch and get him a stupid grape.

I know four days in is no place to begin worrying about behavior, especially when I have been guilty of such things as vacuuming, misting, and paying a lot more direct attention to a little fruitcake of a parrotlet in their midst. (For shame! Selfsame parrotlet probably did more damage to my epidermis during our introduction many moons ago than these conures will ever do!) Though I suppose one needs to vent this stuff like so much morning poop in order to remain content with the mania, nonsense, and ultimate compassion we’ve chosen to endure when bringing these whip-smart, emotionally complex, magical beings into our polluted lives.

I will rest hoping for a better tomorrow, one in which one’s self is forgiven for the crimes of a previous day--and fingers are once again viewed as a perch and not a bludgeon.

Thanks for reading, if you endured


Last edited by Deresy; 03-04-2014 at 06:44 PM. Reason: Typo, Other bits
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-04-2014, 06:42 PM
 
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How old are these conures? I wonder if they are being hormonal? Awww I know how tough it is my sun conure went through a biting phase where he would make me bleed everytime, I notice with my conures they get upset if I wear clothes they deem weird or hair that's in a certain style or hats, and they will attack the offensive article. Sounds like your doing great with them though and its nice to hear of someone who cares so much about their freedom

H
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-04-2014, 06:56 PM Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Rainbow*Russ View Post
How old are these conures? I wonder if they are being hormonal?
The conures are both two years-old, apparently, I've been told.

I would imagine there are so many factors contributing to this behavior, it would be difficult to find anything particular. Some of them would make me feel better, some of them would make me feel like today was simply a bad day (there was a lot going on today, in their defense).

I should add: Besides a couple of half-minute outbursts in the morning, they aren't squawking at all. They 'talk', beak grind, and chortle a lot, though they aren't yelling and that to me is an indicator of emotional well-being.

I'm sure things will be fine (my word, they just entered captive parrot paradise, in regards to human and house). I just had a bad night with them and felt it better to outwardly whinge than internally strife

Thank you for your response

Last edited by Deresy; 03-04-2014 at 06:59 PM. Reason: Clarity
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-04-2014, 08:09 PM
 
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yes it is probably a big shock! They are so lucky to have a mom like you <3

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-04-2014, 09:31 PM


 
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Conures are very unpredictable. I have had more problems with my conures than any other species - you're not alone.

From my experience when a conure reaches about 3 years old he'd mellow out, so what ever problem you have now will eventually pass.

When I had problem with my conures before with their bitting, nipping, screaming, etc I had wanted to rehome all of them because I felt I couldn't cope with them anymore. But then when I thought of them being elsewhere in another home I felt sad and find myself couldn't rehome them.

I am glad I didn't rehome them because all 3 of my conures are now very calm and not those biting monsters they once were..they're still very loud but I dealt with that by closing my bird room door and go in another room .


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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-04-2014, 10:46 PM


 
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Have a read of this http://birds.about.com/od/behavioran...In-Parrots.htm


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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 03:27 AM



 
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At 2 years old they could be hormonal, especially as we're hitting Spring. My five conures would turn into monsters as soon as the season came around. Lowering protein in the diet and sticking to your sleep schedule should help them a lot should be a big help. Remove anything nesty, like tents and such too

Conures are considerably unpredictable, as said above! But the same could be said about any bird. The key is to read their body language. A conure may puff up while receiving scritches, but if they're puffing up at you if they're just say, on their cage, then back off. Conures will also do the 'snake neck' display. I will get a video of one of my conures doing it for you... Angry conure - YouTube
That said, don't let them sit on your shoulder. I know this might sound really difficult, but birds tend to be worse off when they're sat up there. It's their favourite place and they will defend it if you try to remove them Just keep them on your hands for now until they earn their place there

All animals, and people, have off days too. One day you might have them sweet as pie and another day they're just not worth attempting to handle. You should be going through the honeymoon period with them at the moment. Wait for them to settle and then start working with them

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 04:56 AM
 
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Yes I think 3 they do seem to mellow out, after there teenager phase. Blue never went through a biting phase, he's never once biten, but Russ went through a pretty bad phase for a year and now he's back to his sweet self

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 07:23 AM Thread Starter
 
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Oh, thank you so much for the kind and informative comments!

It is good to have a nice collection of experiences related to grumpy conures.

I believe, after sleeping on it, that the aggressive conure is a blessing in disguise. I had hoped that these birds would be largely content together and not be too demanding of my attention, and that seems to be the case (even if they were a lot more sociable with humans before and just after I got them). The one big piece of evidence I have for this dynamic is how much quieter they are now. Yesterday was great and they haven't made any noise besides some beak grinding and soft chortles all morning today.

I also appreciate the stuff on body language. I have a book coming to help me get a better gander on it all (there is a lot of body language coming from these ones!), though the few tips here will be implemented and respected.
Although the smaller conure still seems eager to engage with me, I think that we will be taking the advice of ‘no shoulders’ to heart. Before I read this morning’s collection of responses, the smaller conure begged to be held, after which the bigger one decided it wanted up too… I knew it was going to end badly, and it did: with the big bird attacking my face moments after climbing up and putting himself between the little bird and my head.)

Is it possible that the big one is exhibiting territorial/protective behavior? They haven't really had a consistently calm place of their own their entire lives as far as I know, and with me letting them come and go as they please (currently limited to the top of their cage and an adjacent tabletop) and the presence of the parrotlet and I, I wonder if some territories are being established and protected. Is this is a possibility?

The hormonal ideas are good. I deal with that in re: the parrotlet and it can be messy for a day until we get things sorted. This seems like a possibility here, mixed with some nesting, territorial stuff. They have been regurgitating into each other’s mouths a whole lot. I have been careful not to offer them anything that could be used as a nest…

I have a big play-stand-gym-thing being shipped to me as I type, and I'm curious if positioning this in a different part of the room might be helpful in terms of their appropriation into the daily dynamic around here.

It is all new for us all and I am just elated at how everything is working out (sitting here now and listening to three sets of beaks grinding is a joy). I was anticipating a severely bumpy road and at this point I feel as if nothing more than an odd pebble or two has been found discarded along our path. Staying vigilant and prepared is a must, I know, though oddly: what might be viewed as problematic behavior in some is turning out to be just the right stuff for our home. As long as everybody here is content, I shall follow along in a likewise manner.

Thanks again for the thoughtful, insightful responses. It made me feel a lot better last night to have a place to discard the emotional rubbish of the evening’s meal of interaction.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 08:11 AM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tippa View Post
Having everything put in simple, concise terms like that, and taking into account these are mated birds, leads me to believe this is exactly what is going on. There are so many signs that is likely a hormonal/territorial thing, though I fear I will begin rambling again so I will restrain myself.

Thank you for that link: It helps me understand a lot in this context and at this moment.

I always try to refrain from applying Western gender norms to people, let alone birds, though would one of them being hyper-aggressive and defensive whilst seeming completely obsessed with finding/creating a nest be an indicator of gender when in a pair? The other smaller conure seems much more submissive to the bigger one's madness and while equally enthusiastic about regurgitating and allopreeing, is far less aggressive and crazy about the whole affair.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 09:11 AM
 
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Sounds hormonal to me, my male P'let who is normally the sweetest, most loving little guy in the world has turned into a biting machine over the past week or two. I've got 3 places on my hands that he has bitten and then goes back for those exact same places when he gets a chance.

What I have been doing is returning him to an area he doesn't like for time outs. If he bites me I first determine the reason, did I accidentally do something that hurt or upset him and he merely reacted to that, or is he just biting because he can.

I tell him NO BITE" in a firm voice, much like you use with toddler child, then I pick him up and return him to his cage, shut the door, say "NO BITE" again and leave him there for a minute or two. Then I let him out, pick him up, pet him and tell him he's good boy etc...we go back to playing, but if he bites again I repeat the process. He still bites some, but not as much and not as severe. Plus there have been a few times that he has started to bite me and i can say "NO BITE" before he does it, he will stop with beak open and posed over skin, but doesn't bite...just looks at me. So I know he understands what i'm saying. Maybe it's not the way a bird expert would say to deal with it, but it works for us. I figure they have the intelligence of small child, so that's how I manage their behaviors.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 10:16 AM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M'éanín's Mommy View Post
Sounds hormonal to me, my male P'let who is normally the sweetest, most loving little guy in the world has turned into a biting machine over the past week or two. I've got 3 places on my hands that he has bitten and then goes back for those exact same places when he gets a chance.
Gosh, I am going through almost the exact same thing with my parrotlet. The most irritating thing is that she nipped my ear a few days ago and is now just obsessed with her little wound friend. It's as if she is dachshund with a rabbit: She can't help but take another nibble and seems transfixed by her handiwork. Thankfully she is uninterested in the conure bites on my fingers--that would become annoying quickly: No area would be safe from a little tender concern in the form of a quick nibble.

I have had to put her in her cage for a time out so many times I feel as if I am running a round trip express train through my living room. Luckily she appears to be getting the idea and is practicing a lot of restraint today when the ear is near.

An enterprising individual should create a knit cap or cardigan with fake pin feathers all over it--replete with keratin sheaths--to give our little solitary companions something 'natural' to work with when feeling especially 'caring'.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 10:28 AM



 
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If it's only the one bird who is the problem, I would say s/he is being defensive of the other. That, or they're very jealous

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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 10:49 AM
 
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This is why I said "I wouldn't disturb the harmony" , LOL, when you asked whether you should add conures to your household with a parrotlet.
Hopefully they'll settle down and you can enjoy them all

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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 11:22 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deresy View Post
Gosh, I am going through almost the exact same thing with my parrotlet. The most irritating thing is that she nipped my ear a few days ago and is now just obsessed with her little wound friend. It's as if she is dachshund with a rabbit: She can't help but take another nibble and seems transfixed by her handiwork. Thankfully she is uninterested in the conure bites on my fingers--that would become annoying quickly: No area would be safe from a little tender concern in the form of a quick nibble.

I have had to put her in her cage for a time out so many times I feel as if I am running a round trip express train through my living room. Luckily she appears to be getting the idea and is practicing a lot of restraint today when the ear is near.

An enterprising individual should create a knit cap or cardigan with fake pin feathers all over it--replete with keratin sheaths--to give our little solitary companions something 'natural' to work with when feeling especially 'caring'.
I have bite on my ear too...but, that one was my fault. I wear a lot of earrings and will typically take them out once I get home, but I had forgotten to do so on that day. The little bugger was on my shoulder, saw something shiny and went for it, but missed the earring and got the ear next to it.
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post #16 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 01:39 PM
 
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My Russ is very territorial over Blue, and if O give Blue to many scritiches Russ will come over and put a stop to it.

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post #17 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 01:45 PM


 
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You have two problems here: their age (they are becoming sexually mature and we are on breeding season so yes, their hormones are running rampant right now) and the fact that you rushed things. Parrots do much, much, much better in the long term when we allow them a quiet time when they first come to us (and this is even more important when they are young because, like people, young individuals are more insecure and have 'hotter' reactions than older ones). Interacting with them before they are ready will result in what you are now experiencing. Birds always do well when they first come to us because, as they are in an unfamiliar environment, they will not call attention to themselves (they don't bite, don't scream, etc) until they know what the consequences will be but, when they start feeling more comfortable, they start showing their true colors and, if we pushed them into interaction before they were ready, they will let you know it.

Personally, I think that going back to square one is your best choice right now.
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post #18 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-05-2014, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
 
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I apologize, it seems I wasn't clear in my original post, which was meant purely as a means-of-relief anecdote in hopes of finding commiseration or outlet after 'one of those nights' with grumpy birds.

I am not having any problems here, everyone is doing wonderfully and we are all getting along fine: This current dynamic is something I was hoping to achieve months down the line. I am extremely proud of the conures and my parrotlet seems thrilled to have them here as evidenced by a positive behavior shift.

Perhaps I shouldn't have engaged so heavily in the discussion related to possible 'whys'. I don't think I could possibly rest with any one conclusion with so many variables currently in play and flux. I find it fun and interesting to learn about different aspects of psittacine behavior, especially aspects I had studied before but had no context for (and therefore find fascination in applying).

Please don't think there is some manner of catastrophe occurring! We are becoming a very happy family, each new day brings further joys, and I remain committed and engaged in developing the most beneficial environment for the birds and myself.

I was simply sharing a story of a developing relationship, I didn't mean to get any feathers ruffled.
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post #19 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-06-2014, 01:59 PM


 
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LOL - No ruffled feathers here. You mentioned 'vicious attacks' coming out of the blue so I was just trying to make you see that they were not out of the blue, that they were not only to be expected given the circumstances but also avoidable.
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