Could use some help with my young GCC - Talk Parrots Forums

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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-08-2014, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
 
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Could use some help with my young GCC

Hi guys,

Brand new bird owner here. I've had a 3 month old green cheek conure since Thursday (so 4 days now). He was raised by a breeder so when I acquired him he was "mostly" tame. I put quotes around that because while he's incredibly interested in me, he seems to have two very different personalities, one in his cage, and one outside of it.

I have been working with him on step ups and target training, both of which he does pretty well with. I have a couple problems with him, though, that make me concerned that the bird is going to end up hating me.

When I'm working with him outside of his cage, he cooperates pretty well for a while, and then he'll start turning his back on me and try to fly on top of his cage to get away from me. He also routinely tries flying onto my shoulder, even though I try to discourage this as much as possible by pulling my shoulder away. He is clipped, so he doesn't fly too well, but it doesn't stop him from trying.

I'm trying to get him used to touch and taming him further, but I'm having a rather difficult time of touching his back or his head or ear area - I am going very slow, distracting him with treats, talking to him reassuringly... the only thing that works is distracting him with a treat, for the most part, and then I can touch him, but he does then start to run up my arm to get away from the hand at his back.

Eventually, he grows tired of me asking him to do things that he resorts to biting. I'm not trying to force him to do anything; I only ask for step ups and never push my finger into his belly. If he starts biting when he's perched on my hand, I will shake my hand to make him lose his balance (I've read and watched multiple sources that say this is a good way to get them to stop biting). He squawks when this happen, clearly not liking that, but I'm not sure it's effective, or that I'm just not making angry and losing his trust by doing it. I've also tried putting the bird down and walking away. Because he wants to be near/on me, he'll try and fly to me, so I've had to shut a door on him before. Again, I'm not sure if this is an effective biting deterrent or if I'm just making things worse.

The thing that kind of sucks is that I've found that he LOVES being touched through the bars of his cage. He'll come up on his rope perch, and he's learned that when I lift my index finger high and through the bars, that it's time to get pet. He comes over, gently tongues at my finger and beaks it, but not bites - more nibbles. I lift my finger higher and start to scratch at the top of his head and his ears, and he closes his eyes, coos, and presses up into it, so clearly he likes it. My only guess is that he feels comfortable in the cage and not out of it, but I approach the petting in the same manner either way.

What do you think I should do at this point? Should I be:

1) Limiting his time out to very short intervals?
2) Try to continue getting him used to my touch even though he's uncomfortable with it out of the cage, in the hopes that eventually he'll stop being so cranky about it?
3) Should I let him out and just kind of do his own thing? I've tried to get him to play with jingle bells and empty spools of threads as simple mouth toys but he's really uninterested in them.
4) Is it possible I am damaging my relationship with any of my (gentle) negative reinforcement (hand/perch shaking, ignoring)?

I'm so very scared I'm doing more harm than good to the relationship at this point, and I know it's really critical to get it right early. Please help!
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-09-2014, 07:27 AM
 
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Your bird is very young and you have only had him for a few days and you are already suspecting that you are moving way too fast, if this is so then I am in total agreement. There are those who opt for a different approach than I use and that is ok, but I believe that for the first month, at least, that your time is better spent with taming and creating a bond with your bird. This doesn't mean that you can't do a little training, but I limit it to one 15 minute session per day during this period. The best way to build the bond is by earning his trust. I do this by spending a lot of time just talking to him while in his cage, learning what his favorite foods are, hanging out with him when he is out of his cage. After I learn what his favorite foods are I take the two most favorite and reserve them for treats and this is where I do one session per day of target training. I also place my hand near him while hanging out and talking to him and let him approach and step on my hand on his own. This is a brief description of the process that I use and it is brief because it appears that you are already listening to your bird and are wanting to respond to him correctly and have the knowledge to do this already.
Yes, with your bird being in an alien, to him, environment he is scared and his cage is the only place that holds anything familiar so he is more comfortable there than anywhere else. When he is out he is even more scared and he looks to you for his security and the favorite place for most GCCs to perch when out of their cage is on your shoulder. I see no harm in allowing him to be there, especially since during this period the emphasis should be primarily on earning his trust and love and he really does need the security.
I don't think that you are doing anything wrong with the way that you are using to stop his biting although I normally use a phrase such as " Gentle" or " NO Bite ' and move my hand away from him. I think the way you are doing it should be good too.
By all means let him out for a couple of hours of hangout time wherein he can look about and learn to play or whatever. I don't think he will have a lot of interest in the toys yet, but I would play with his toys with him so that he can see what you are doing and learn to play with them too. When you are giving him this time let him come to you and don't push too much on touching him everywhere as he will allow you to touch more places only as he becomes more trusting of you anyway.
I think that you have the right idea and just needed a little reassurance that this might be the right direction to go in for you and your friend ( bird ).
Good luck and I hopr this helps you.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-09-2014, 09:27 AM


 
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Hi and welcome. I too think you are pushing for to much a bit too fast. Let the bird come to you and don't ask for anything more than respect at this stage. Lots of talking and feeding yummies. Touching only on his terms etc. when my green cheek bites she gets placed on the floor and ignored for a few seconds. This seems to reset her mood a bit. Once your bird bonds with and learns to trust you, then you can start asking for behaviors and do more training... Good luck!
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-09-2014, 09:46 AM



 
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It also sounds like to myself that you're pushing him too much and too fast. It is not uncommon for people to leave their birds a month before handling them and such if they want them to settle in and build trust

Keep training sessions really short. They do get bored easily!

Cages are their safe zones so when they're feeling uncomfortable they do like to go and sit on them. I wouldn't stop him from doing this. As with flying, it is a security to have

The flying to you is an excellent thing, but you need to get him to come to your hand and not your shoulder, and get him to come when called. If you keep working with target training he will soon start stepping up on to your hand and then when his flights come back in he can fly to you. Honestly, flight is an invaluable skill

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-09-2014, 10:15 AM


 
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All the advice given is right on track and I just have a few comments to add:

1. You shouldn't be training him at all yet but gaining his trust and love, instead, or you will end up with a bird that will bite you all the time.

2. Once he trusts and loves you (one to two months), limit your training sessions to 15 minutes and not more than twice a day.

3. Don't keep on trying to touch his back, it's an erogenous zone and this is a no-no caress with birds.

4. Keep on scratching his head and cheeks through the bars. He allows you to do it there because he needs physical love (touch) and feels safe in it as he still doesn't really know you from Adam. Once he learns to trust and love you (bonding with you), he will let you do it outside the cage.

5. I don't like the 'earthquake' (shaking your hand) method when they are babies or clipped or when they first come to us. I only do it with Nando, a jenday which chews my clothes full of holes but he is fully flighted and , when I command him to take off (I say 'Go' and make a quick forward movement with my shoulder), he does but this is nothing but a very small inconvenience to him as he just flies off, makes a U Turn in the air and comes right back. A clipped baby cannot do that and it will just make him terribly insecure and distrustful of your hand (something you definitely NOT want). There are things that you can do with adult, flighted birds under certain circumstances that you simply cannot with clipped ones or babies. I would just move his beak gently away from my flesh and say something like 'Gently, gently'. He is not trying to bite you, he's actually 'beaking' you (like babies teething or puppies chewing on everything) but he does not yet know the strength in his beak so it's up to you to teach him in a non-traumatic manner and without scolding at all.

6. I know a lot of people do not agree but I see nothing wrong with birds perching on people's shoulders. I deal with aggressive birds and they have never perched on my shoulder to bite me, they fly out to attack me. And the birds that perch on my shoulder (whoever wants to do it is welcome and they often play musical chairs with them, scaring each other off so they can get a turn) have always been looking for company and nothing else. This is especially true of the GCCs (experience with four of them, two males and two females) which seem to live for it (they love to cuddle next to your neck, under your chin or hair and go to sleep there) so I would never deprive them of it.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-09-2014, 10:48 AM


 
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Originally Posted by petiteoiseau View Post

6. I know a lot of people do not agree but I see nothing wrong with birds perching on people's shoulders. I deal with aggressive birds and they have never perched on my shoulder to bite me, they fly out to attack me. And the birds that perch on my shoulder (whoever wants to do it is welcome and they often play musical chairs with them, scaring each other off so they can get a turn) have always been looking for company and nothing else. This is especially true of the GCCs (experience with four of them, two males and two females) which seem to live for it (they love to cuddle next to your neck, under your chin or hair and go to sleep there) so I would never deprive them of it.
My green cheek and tiel both love to cuddle under my chin... My green cheek will gently grab my thumb with her beak and pull my hand over her so I can stroke her head... She's a goof ball!
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-10-2014, 08:19 AM


 
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To me it doesn't sound like you are doing half bad. I think training does build trust so I would still do it. My only advice is that you have to always end training on a positive note. So you need to end the session before you anticipate him getting annoyed and trying to end it with biting.

Try teaching him to play independently out of cage. On a playgym with some treats and toys. Out of cage should be time with you/training/cuddling and then time hanging out on a gym in the room while you do other things.

It sounds like he likes cuddles but just needs more time. I ask my birds if they want tickles and move my finger toward their head only. If they fluff up, then they want it. If they back away, I stop. Stroking their beak is usually something they like before they'll accept petting.

About the shoulder, it is comforting and sometimes less overwhelming for them to sit there. As long as they don't bite your ear or something and will step up to come down, I think it is fine. It allows them to touch you, get familiar with your scent, etc. but they are high up (security) and it is less in their face contact.

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Last edited by 4thebirds; 06-10-2014 at 11:32 AM.
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