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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My Sun Conure has been great so far, unless I have to take him/her out of or off of its cage. Then he doesn't want to leave and sometimes bites. I usually manage to get him out, but it takes a while. I could grab him, as he definitely doesn't step up at this time, however, he holds onto the cage so darn tightly with his feet and beak that it's near impossible to get him to let go, and I don't want to hurt him.

The last time I went to the vet's, I asked him how I should deal with this behavior. He said to show the bird that the only way to get in or out of the cage is by me. Never let him come in or out by himself. It's a bit more difficult than it sounds. Nevertheless, I will continue this, however, does anybody know of any other methods that could help?
 

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I always say "Step Up" and "Step Down" in a tone that says I'm the boss, not yelling, and not asking "maybe could you please step up?". I've done this with Libby from day one. I move her from place to place this way, in addition to in or out of her cage.

It's a habit now, I even do this with my Parrotlet, Angelina. Libby even says "Step Up" and "Step Down"! Sometime she doesn't want to go back into her cage, so she won't step down, but lays down on the perch instead! She eventually gets there though.

This is usually the first command I teach my birds, so I can get them up and away from a situation quickly if I need to. When I started with Libby, I had her perched on my finger and I just moved her from my left hand to my right hand, saying "Step Up" each time. She was a baby at the time, but she got it right away.

Maybe this will help you. Your new baby is trying to be boss!
 

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Maybe it's getting territorial :shrug: or maybe just stubborn haha. Quite odd how it wont let go though
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It's amazing the difference from when we are away from the cage and when he is on top of it or in it. He'll step up no problem other places, but when he's on top of his cage or in it, that's the last thing he wants to do.
 

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Sounds like Al when it comes to sitting on a sofa :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It's so unlike my cockatiel, who begs to be let out, and will come out anytime with no problem.
 

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Now, I'm going to take an alternate stance on this... he could very well be scared, not bossy or territorial, and doesn't know the best way out of the cage yet. You mentioned he does not know how to step up well, if I remember right? I would open the cage and let him come out on his own. Personally, I don't believe in forcing a bird to do much of anything, unless you absolutely have to. It takes a lot longer to bond and build trust, but forcing a bird may get the results you want but there will always be a layer of mistrust and fear to be forced into doing what it does not want to do. You will have your sun conure for up to 20 years to come and you want the most positive relationship you can build with your bird. It's hard sometimes to step back and go slow, especially when he's so friendly out of the cage but doesn't like to come out.

Mizu was that way - she did NOT step up from inside or on top of her cage, but would step up from anywhere else. I discovered she had been pulled out of her cage, like it or not, while she was at the pet shop and it created a phobia in her. I would bring a small tabletop playstand over to the edge of the cage and she would hop up on it if she wanted me. I would also offer her my shoulder or arm, instead of my hand, and she would step up on that sometimes too.

I'm all for making sure your bird knows you're the alpha but it's a fine line between Alpha and just forcing them to do things they don't want to do. Part of an emotionally healthy, stable bird is a sense of independence - they have to be able to make their own choices. They've done some really good studies in Greys showing that if they do not make their own choices, they're more prone to phobias and plucking. Birds are far more intellectually complex than dogs or cats, so they have to be independent, yet submissive to a degree. Your bird should never really be truly "submissive" in the context you would think of with a dog or cat. There are flock dynamics in the wild and birds which are more alpha and more submissive, but it's a very fluid structure and it's nowhere near as rigid as you would see with dogs or a wolfpack.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I think that the vet was meaning that the bird has to step up on my finger with me to come out of the cage, more than actually picking up the bird and pulling him/her out. Unless I absolutely NEED him out of the cage right away, I try not to do that. I feel bad when I have to resort to picking up a bird instead of having them step up onto my finger when moving them.

Like tonight, I've been taking my time put my hands in the cage and feeding him lettuce. After a while, I'll try to get him to step up. He won't bite, he doesn't panic, he just doesn't really want to step up. So I can already see improvements. This is what I originally did to cause him to be less fearful of me and my hands. Now I'm trying this same method, except for in the cage, to see if I can get him to step up IN the cage.

Once I can successfully take him out of the cage like I'd like to, I'll leave his door open so he can freely come in and out as he pleases, just like the other birds can do.

I don't force him out of the cage by grabbing him ever.
 

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Maybe you should just open the door for the cage and leave him to it before trying to get him to come out. If he comes out by himself with confidence you may find that it will start getting easier.

I've got open top cages which helps them come out at their own pace. Chewee steps up from the cage although sometimes being a kakariki he'll jump off not long after I've got him on my hand haha. Chewee doesn't mind being picked up as sometimes like when going to the vets and he refuses then I have to. He's never handled rough though and I never pull him off anything :) but yeah I found using open top cages can be useful as they'll climb up by them selves
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I know he'll come out if I leave the cage doors open. That's what I used to do because I knew he wouldn't come out on my finger. But my vet pointed out that if he doesn't need me and my fingers to ever come out of the cage, why bother coming out with me at all? As I said before, I won't permanently only take him out when I come and get him, just until he willingly gets out my finger and comes out of the cage with me.
 

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I know he'll come out if I leave the cage doors open. That's what I used to do because I knew he wouldn't come out on my finger. But my vet pointed out that if he doesn't need me and my fingers to ever come out of the cage, why bother coming out with me at all? As I said before, I won't permanently only take him out when I come and get him, just until he willingly gets out my finger and comes out of the cage with me.
I really don't like that attitude from your vet :/ I know birds that live their entire lives without stepping up, due to phobias or disabilities, who are very affectionate and loving and WANT to be with you. Mizu never stepped up out of her cage before she died, but we were very strongly bonded and she loved to be out with me. Your conure will bond with you and become your companion - coming out on your finger, at this point, isn't the key issue in my mind. The bigger issue is coming out and learning that being on you and with you is fun ;)
 

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I haven't read what everyone else said, stuck for time here but I teach all of my birdds commands so they know what is expected of them. I teach "step up" & "off". I even have birds that have gripped with their beak to tight & by commanding "off", they let go but of course the bird has to be taught these commands. I have stubborn conures that don't want to go back into their cage so I just pull them off, no harsh or anything but I let them know they have no choice.

Now being your bird is newer, he could have other things going on but teach him that your hand is a good place to get him out of his cage. I'm sure he likes his out time? Treats & praises always brings good behaviours. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I think I can sort of see him point, though....He'll come out by himself, but not with me. But I don't know what else to do. The only suggestion I've gotten is from my vet. (Actually, when I'm referring to "my vet" it is usually the vet technician I am actually talking about. I talk to him the most.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Also, he doesn't mean that birds don't ever want to be with their humans if they don't step up.
 

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Abby,
I have known people who ascribe to both sides of this issue, but the longer I have my birds the more I tend to agree with the folks who espouse letting the birds have as many choices as possible. Your sun conure is very, very young. You are in the stage in which you want to build as positive a relationship as possible with your bird. There is plenty of time to teach the bird to come out of the cage on your hand. I personally would not force the bird at this point.
 

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I do teach my birds to step up. My Crimson Belly will throw herself at my hand to come out LOL However, both my Green Cheek and Sun don't like to step up from inside the cage. For whatever reason, it makes them nervous. They will however happily step up on my arm or shoulder from in the cage, it is just the presented hand that worries them. So, I do what makes them more comfortable and either let them fly/climb out on their own, or give them an arm/shoulder to step on to.
 

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KRYKKYT knows how to step up, but as a rule we just open the cage and let her come out at her leisure -- it's not like there's any doubt that she's gonna come out as quick as she can move her tail-feathers!!!

What surprises ME is when she actually gets back IN the cage on her own some evenings!

- mf
 

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teekee my sun was the first bird we ever had. and we were totally new to any birds.
she became cage bound, and i don't think she was ever taught to step up. she was supposed to be a breeder when old enough. so wasn't used to people.
we went to a small show of suns at our bird store. and waited till after to talk to the people giving the show, all suns. told them our problem and here is the answer he gave me. and IT WORKED. she stopped being cage bound. i think it took maybe 2 weeks at most. probably a week. but this is 7 yrs ago.

most birds want out of the cage, but don't know how. take a piece of paper, newspaper, shirt, pot holder. anything out of the ordinary. DO NOT USE TOWELS.
open the cage door and put your hand in it, near to the bird but not against her. slowly move the paper up the outside of the cage, and towards the back. as the paper gets closer to the back, put your hand up against the bird, just slightly higher than the feet. the bird is caught between your hand, and whats invading her space. and tell her STEP UP and gently nudge her. the fear of whats out there is more than your fingers. and as she steps up and you start to move your hand away from the perch, slowly drop whatever you use. and take her all the way out of the cage. do it in a smooth motion. if we did it too slow she would grab a perch on the way out. or too fast would have the same results.
walk away from the cage and into a nuetral room. and practice the step up. like a ladder. about 3 times. then walk her back to her cage, praising her all the time while doing the ladder and going to her cage. like STEP UP, oh good girl, STEP UP, yyeesss good girl. put her back in/on her cage. you can talk to her but don't try to pick her up.
do this several times a day. don't always use the same thing. maybe next time a sheet of copy paper, next rolled newspaper.
and the ladder work when you get her out.
even now when she balks about stepping up, all i need to do is pick something up and move towards her cage side, and out she comes on the finger.
let me know if this works for you. i have passed this on to a lot of people and so far its all positive feed back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you, Kathleen, for taking the time to type all that up. I will try this for sure and see how my Sun reacts to it.
 
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