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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi guys! I'm hoping you can help me with my parrotlet, Saturday. I've never had a bird before, and I'm not sure what to do! I've had her for a little over 2 weeks, and so far it's been a roller coaster ride. I love my little girl; she's so cute and full of personality. When I first got her, she was shy, and then she seemed to warm up to me. She would step up and climb on me and I thought we were starting to make friends. But in the last few days she has become a furious biter! :( If I put my hand near her she leans over and opens her beak to threaten me, and as soon as my hand is in reach she tries to take a chunk out of me. I've tried blowing on her and saying, "no biting" in a stern voice, but it only stops her for a second. I've tried rewarding her with seed when she's being sweet (she's a total millet junkie), but as soon as she's done eating, it's chomp-chomp-chomp on me. I know that parrotlets' beaks are their hands, and gentle beaking is fine, but these bites hurt! I feel silly being scared of the bites of such a little bird, but that beak is sharp!

I think that her issue is with hands. She will step up onto a perch, and from there she never misses an opportunity to scramble up an arm and onto a shoulder. She'll preen my hair and sleep on my neck and generally be very sweet once she's out and on me (or on others - she loves sitting on the back of a human's neck), but the process of picking her up, whether I reach into the cage (I only reach in for her when she's on a perch right by the door - I don't chase her around) or she climbs out, is really tough because she'll bite and bite the hand that holds her or wants to hold her.

I've done some searching on this site but most of the biting tips I've found are about how to stop bites once you've got your parrot in your hands. But what can I do for a bird that doesn't even want to step up?

Thanks so much for all of your help. I love Saturday and I want us to have a good relationship, but I'm worried that she'll never want to be with me. :(
 

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I have no idea if this will help or not. :shrug: You may already be doing this.

When I go to my green cheek's cage, before I open it to get her out, I will ask her if she wants to come out and move my finger like I am calling her over.

Then, if she acts like she wants to come out, I will open the door, but I don't put my hand very far inside. I put my hand just inside the door and wait for her to climb over to me. She has to move to get to me. The door is large, so even if she is actually on the door, I put my hand so that she has to climb at least a little way to get to me. This way, she only is in reach of my finger when she wants to come out. She has not bitten me once when coming out of her cage since I started doing this. However, that doesn't mean it will work for your bird. It might. If you stick your hand right up toward her when she is in her cage as I can and do with all of my other birds, she is as likely to chomp down as step up.
 
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Ah, typical plet behavior. I call mine a little rattlesnake. She was the same way for a long time. I can take her out now easily, but she doesn't like stepping up, and only does it once in a great while. They are different to be sure. Check out the talkparrotlet site for expert info, it helped me. I love her name!
 

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Nanay offers great advice. I do this exact thing with Scooter, my Senegal. I have had less bites using this method.

It might be worth using this advice, combined with millet spray. Only offer her millet spray outside of the cage. Never inside. And if she wants out of the cage, she must step up onto your hand (use millet to encourage her). Your hands will be associated with millet, a good thing
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Nanay offers great advice. I do this exact thing with Scooter, my Senegal. I have had less bites using this method.

It might be worth using this advice, combined with millet spray. Only offer her millet spray outside of the cage. Never inside. And if she wants out of the cage, she must step up onto your hand (use millet to encourage her). Your hands will be associated with millet, a good thing
Thanks everyone! I really appreciate the advice. If you have any more ideas, I'm always happy to hear suggestions. I think I'm going to take this advice - Saturday already only gets millet when a human is holding it, but the idea of making her step on my finger to get out and to get it is a good one. I think, however, that I'm going to add an intermediate step and make her step up onto a perch if she wants to come out and eat millet. I can't help but flinch when she bites, and I want her to get used to the idea that biting won't make stepping up go away, so I'll use a perch for a while first. Then, while she's out (she's got a play area on a tabletop), I'm going to use millet to get her used to my hands, using positive reinforcement to move them closer bit by bit (I found a great video here). Then we can try finger step-ups again. As an added incentive for us both, she can't get on my shoulder (her and my favorite place) unless she can do it without biting me. Does this sound like a good plan? :shrug:
 

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I just wanted to say I have two of those sharks as well. My male has decided he'll have nothing to do with hands at all. He will "step up" onto a perch but he really's not a ppl person but he talks a mean streak. I love him. And my female can be a shark but is all talk, oh she can bite but I let her bite me, I never react or pull away, I get her on my hand & then she is fine. Good luck, they can be little devils. :D
 

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I think it is a smart idea to go with a perch to step up on right now. I would do the same thing in your position. Keep us posted.
 

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I know with Russ (who is a budgie however), she took a good year to warm up to me properly. Now she won't leave me alone <3
Even now though, she does NOT like me putting my hand in the cage. I have to call her out. So I would take naynay's advice
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks, guys. She's still biting, but we're working on it. I only take her out when she wants to come, and I have her step up to get out onto a perch, not my hand. We've been practicing step-ups onto both my hands and perches, and when she does a few good ones on my hand in a row she's rewarded with lots of praise and a trip up to my shoulder. I know she likes me because every time I open the cage door she comes out and then runs up to me to try to climb my arm - it's just the biting that's a problem!

I also got a clicker and have started training her with that, which I hope will improve our relationship and burn up some of her energy (plus it allows us to interact without biting being an option, which can only be to the good). I'll let you know how it goes.
 

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Great news! You have great instincts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Great news! You have great instincts.
Thanks, Nanay! What a lovely thing to say! I've been doing a lot of research (I got that book, "The Bird School" that's really step-by-step with clicker training), and we've been practicing a few times a day. Hopefully soon we'll have some adorable tricks to post! :lovehearts:
 

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Great progress! Give it a few more weeks and you two will be the best of friends :lovehearts: Personally, I have a soft spot for the birds with attitude and spunk because, after a few months hard work, they bond with you so much stronger it seems than other birds and it's so much more rewarding to know all that hard work paid off and you have a new friend for life :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Great progress! Give it a few more weeks and you two will be the best of friends :lovehearts: Personally, I have a soft spot for the birds with attitude and spunk because, after a few months hard work, they bond with you so much stronger it seems than other birds and it's so much more rewarding to know all that hard work paid off and you have a new friend for life :D
I agree! As much as I don't love being bitten, I'm wild about Saturday. I feel like the biting shows she's got spirit! She doesn't take any crap from anybody! :smilewinkgrin:
 

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I agree! My Parrotlet is different from any other type of bird I've ever owned -- spunky, feisty and a big attitude! Quite a challenge to win her over -- took a year, as I mentioned in another thread -- but it was worth it. Gotta love spunk!
 
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