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Video How to Teach Your Bird Not to Bite

Discussion in 'Behavior Byway' started by Laurie, 5/2/18.

  1. Laurie

    Laurie Rollerblading along the road Mayor of the Avenue Vendor

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    It makes me sad to hear people say that if you have a parrot you will get bit.

    It is not untrue but at the same time I think it misrepresents the truth.

    To put it bluntly, and I don't mean to offend, just to speak the truth, if you are getting bit all the time you are doing it wrong.

    It has become cliche to say that if you have birds you will get bit. It is true birds do bite but why don't we have the same expression when it comes to dogs? Because people don't accept a dog biting as normal behavior, if a dog growls or bears his teeth we don't push him, instead, we back off.

    Sadly, if a bird exhibits aggressive or fearful body language we often don't recognize, or worse ignore those signals and we get bit.

    If we continue to act this way we will create fearful and aggressive birds.

    I have caiques so I will use them as an example, caiques are very assertive and often fearless. Pushing past their signals that tell us to go away, step back and leave them alone leads to biting. Pushing past the biting leads more often than not to a caique who goes on the offensive and starts issuing preemptive attacks.

    Unfortunately, people are creating birds who bite and attack. I know it is not being done on purpose but it is, without question, happening. This makes me sad.

    Birds get abandoned and rehomed and parrots as companions get a bad rep.

    I think it is a people problem. I think the solution is education.

    I'm going to offer a little advice, take it or leave it (but please take it).

    Take a step back, then take two more steps back. Interact in ways that create positive responses and when you get a negative response don't do that again. Over time, when you build a record of many positive interactions and few negatives you will gain their trust and that will lead to the type of relationship you want.

    If your parrot has already established a pattern of aggression you will have a long road ahead. It will take longer to build enough positive interactions to outweigh the negative interactions that your bird has had.

    You will have to untrain the undesirable behaviors by equipping your bird to present more desirable ones instead. So before you can start you will need to figure out what you want instead.

    There are lots of resources out there. Some are better than others. I love everything from Barbara Heindenreich at Parrot Training | Barbara's Force Free Animal Training.

    I say this to let you know that there is hope and you can have a great relationship with your parrot. Specifically, you can have a parrot and not get bit (at least rarely and I mean go months or longer without getting bit).

    One key to avoiding bites is to learn and heed the more subtle warnings that your parrot is always communicating to you. Here is a video of Quackers my male 5 year old white-bellied caique. He is also very hormonal at this time and was giving me all sorts of signals that he wanted me to move far away from him and his mate. I needed to get them back in their cage. The video starts after I get him back in but it shows some aggressive behavior and threatening body language. I also explain how I handle things in a situation like this and why.

    I hope this helps someone who may be struggling with a biting parrot but even more I hope it helps someone to avoid creating a parrot who bites in the first place.



    Don't be discouraged but do work with your birds, see how much you can do with them and make it your goal not to get used to the bites but rather to never do anything that will make your bird feel the need to bite.
     
  2. Lady Jane

    Lady Jane Cruising the avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran

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    Wonderful Post Laurie.
     
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  3. WendyN

    WendyN Biking along the boulevard Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award

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    Joey calling back.. “hi,”
    Thank you for the helpful post.
    I am still in training.
     
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  4. Garet

    Garet Rollerblading along the road

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    This doesn't always work, unfortunately. I've noticed I don't always get warnings with my birds. Sometimes, Yen wakes up while snuggled in my shirt and nips, Mims bites sometimes to express that she's had enough with being pet rather than pulling away or giving me warnings. Or if another bird of mine comes close while Guz is on me, he bites me without warning. Mims sometimes gets spooked by things and bites me. Even Krem has bit me while I'm helping him up off the floor. The only way to avoid being bit by him is to just not help him up.

    Your advice for listening to body language is great, but it doesn't work in every circumstance.
     
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  5. JLcribber

    JLcribber Joyriding the Neighborhood Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran Shutterbugs' Best

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    That's it in a nutshell. :)
     
  6. Eloy

    Eloy Cruising the avenue Celebirdy of the Month Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran Shutterbugs' Best

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    I always use positive reinforcement, and I never demand my parrots to do anything. And they are so well behaved both.
    I never get angry at them, and I never punish them, because that isn't working with parrots.

    I posted this a while ago in another thread:

     
  7. Fritzgerald16

    Fritzgerald16 Rollerblading along the road Mayor of the Avenue

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    Mia is 2 now and I’ve been told she will start biting soon. I have been bit 1 time and I deserved it! Even then there was no blood or even a bruise. Birds always have a reason, we just are the dummies who need to figure it out :wacky:
     
  8. AkasyaEllric

    AkasyaEllric Sprinting down the street

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    Thanks so much for this post. I'm still working with Slade and when I adopted him they said he had a "biting issue" that's why he was rehomed so many times. I only have been bit once so far, and that was at the foster's. He's gotten my husband once and I warned him he shouldn't of been near him. He's a hormonal older bird with a semi traumatic past and biting issues, probably from someone not listening to his cues, so I'm trying my best to learn his and gain his trust. I'm sure once breeding season is over it will be a smidge easier too haha.
     
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  9. Laurie

    Laurie Rollerblading along the road Mayor of the Avenue Vendor

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    So true. Peaches is 5 and she has only bitten me once and it was a bite intend for another bird and I got in the middle of it. Ir was more of a pinch.

    I only have one who I really avoid touching with my hands because she does bite, she has very subtle body language that is easy to miss, she really has a loner personality and enjoys hands off interaction more.

    The other five are really easy to read. Quackers, the one in the video is easy to read but frequently is in a biting mood. Right now I am sure it.is hormone driven he is also very easily excited. Ember, Bandit and Turbo only bite if I ignore their other cues to cut it out.
     
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  10. Laurie

    Laurie Rollerblading along the road Mayor of the Avenue Vendor

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    Garet, it is wonderful that you are paying such close attention to your birds.

    You bring up some good points, my advice is correct but as with most topics it is complicated so if you want more advice here it is...

    It seems that you have identified many triggers to what would cause each individual to bird to bite.

    Once you identify their triggers (or circumstances in which they will bite) you should work to avoid being in or creating the circumstance.

    First, my definition of a bite is either a vicious bite that does damage to the skin, exerts a prolonged intense pressure or is otherwise aggressive. Obviously smaller birds are not going to do as much damage or inflict as much pain. I am sure you have enough experience with your birds to know the difference between a bite rather than a little nip meant to communicate something to you.

    Yen wakes up while snuggled in my shirt and nips, - this could possibly be due to being startled or maybe to let you know she is awake.

    Mims bites sometimes to express that she's had enough with being pet rather than pulling away or giving me warnings - A few things come to mind on this, it may be due to over excitement which can lead to biting. It can also be a learned behavior whereby more subtle body language was missed and eventually she resorted to biting and got the reaction (stop petting) that she wanted and so has now decided to job straight to biting to get you to stop because she knows it works.

    another bird of mine comes close while Guz is on me, he bites me without warning - This could be what is referred to as displaced aggression meaning that he really wants to bite the other bird but you are the closest thing he can get to so he bites you instead. Or it could be a case of him wanting to protect you from another bird (if he has pair bonded with you) so he bites you in an attempt to make you flee the situation. Birds will sometimes bite at their mate to get them to flee when a rival comes nearby. Of course they usually get a mouthful of feathers so it doesn't really hurt the mate. It is just a form of communication.

    Mims sometimes gets spooked by things and bites me - This could also be the signal for you to flee from danger as discussed above.

    Krem has bit me while I'm helping him up off the floor. The only way to avoid being bit by him is to just not help him up. - Could be over excitement or fear. Either way you could pick him up with a perch instead.

    In effect, your birds are communicating with you through body language, even with the biting. As you continue to learn about how birds think and communicate and what they may be thinking you can probably greatly decrease how often you get bite and continue to build an ever more trusting relationship with your birds.

    Your little birds deserve the peace and security that this type of relationship affords and if you ever do get larger birds it will save you a lot of frustration and lots of band-aids.

    Keep up the great work!
     
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  11. Mizzely

    Mizzely Joyriding the Neighborhood Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran Vendor I Can't Stop Posting! BINGO CHAMPION

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    What is the solution for a dive bombing parrot when I walk past the room his cage is in? :lol:

    I have worked with many ways of avoiding bites with Jingo (target training being the main one) but every Spring he always gets me once or twice with a full on, unprovoked attack. The other day I wasn't even in eyesight; he was at the other end of the house while I was making dinner, and he sought me out to bite my scalp. :/

    I definitely think it is easy to avoid 99% of bites once you get to know the bird, but Jingo sometimes throws me for a loop!!

    Even untame Bobber has only nailed me once in over 2.5 years and that was 100% my fault.
     
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  12. Laurie

    Laurie Rollerblading along the road Mayor of the Avenue Vendor

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    I don't have much experience with that one. I did see a video once of Barbara Heinderiech training some conures as they were dive bombing her. She was trying to get them to land elseware besides her head by reinforcing the landings in other areas.

    It sounds like it is mostly under control. Do you leave him out unsupervised? Quackers, my little guy on the video is really touchy. He has not literally flew over and attacked but he has landed on me and paced around like he was preparing to bite and also landed on me and then walked down my arm and bite me. Like I said it is definitely hormone related and I think usual trying to keep me away from his girl. When he is like that I put my hair down an try and wear long sleeves. I also keep a close eye on him and try not to turn my back. If he lands on me I walk over to a place he can get off and get a little lower down and then lean over so he steps up to the higher place. I also use a long perch to handle him. Usually, I can tell if he means harms so I don't pick him up. If he seems calm and comes over to me I will let him stay and he is usually fine. I don't really pet my birds or try to cuddle them so the independent, hands off type parrot works for me. I kind of let them operate on their own terms.

    Flying attacks would be an issue for me.

    One other thing problem, I do have is birds flying over to other cages to attack the birds inside. For this I have tried to establish routines where my birds do anything else but fly to another cage.

    Turbo and Peaches are not usually interested in landing on other cages so they either stay on theirs or fly right to the other room and then I just close the door that separates the from the room with the cages.

    Ember and Quackers used to always land on Turbo and Peaches cage and start fights but I started training them to station on the door of their cage while I went in the other room to get food or things like that. Once they got that down I started getting them to fly to the other room instead but they are mostly good now about staying on the cage or going to the other room. This is of course if I am supervising. I am pretty sure all bets are off if they are left on their own. This is the method I used to train them to station. This could possibly work for Jingo.

    Bandit and Rainey do not station or always quickly fly to the other room, they are more determined and I have worked with them less. Basically, I can step up Bandit if he is in the mood but he is really excited and runs around on top his cage shaking things and tries to get a look at the other birds and starts plotting his attack. I try to get his attention and either get him to step up of fly to the other room.

    Rainey and I have an agreement, I don't put my fingers near her and she doesn't bite them. If I break the deal I get bit. I don't think it is a very good deal for me but it seems to work for her. LOL! I try and get her attention and eventually she will fly to the top of the door to the room and then go to the top of the cabinets in the other room. I throw a treat up there and she goes and gets it. It requires patience but slowly she is getting faster and more reliable.

    I just keep trying to improve things little by little and progress is what counts. With Rainey, it was really frustrating to deal with her until I gave up trying to handle her with my hands and started doing other things. I think given time and consistent working with her she would improve but overall she is shy and a bit of a loner, I think she was pushed too far at one point maybe 2 or 3 times and when biting got people to leave her alone she made that her go to way of telling people to go away. Sometimes she flies over and lands on me and then is fine but mostly it's hands off. She seems to love to be in the room with people but doesn't want to be one them.

    I hope some of my rambling helps, sometimes we can get them to act how we want but I don't think it is easy to change them only to make what we want worth their while.

    I thing the link from Lara Joseph on stationing might be your best bet for Jingo :)
     
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  13. Laurie

    Laurie Rollerblading along the road Mayor of the Avenue Vendor

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    Very well said J.T., I agree. You get what you expect and if you label a bird as a biter i will make you give up before you should.

    I have one bird who bites if I try to get her to step up but she will step up for my husband. He moves very slowly and is super gentle and always goes in and gives them treats every day never expecting anything in return. She trusts him because though they don't interact much it has always been nothing but positive interactions.
     
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  14. Garet

    Garet Rollerblading along the road

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    Yeah, my lovebirds pack a wallop and don't let go while doing that grinding motion with their beaks. It really hurts, and I've had skin torn off, bruising, bleeding, ect. Yen and Triss have really wicked bites. Triss opened my upper lip once with a quick jab while she was kissing my face. That time, I didn't even know I was bitten until I tasted the blood and thought I was having a nosebleed.

    I've had Krem chomp down on my ear, too. He might not pack the same bite force as en and Triss, but it hurts when he gets my ear. I'm still trying to work out why he does it. I think he just gets startled when he finds my ear through my hair and instinctively bites. The only solution is to keep him out of my hair, but he's clipped and feels secure up on my shoulders and head, so I put up with the occasional pain.

    Littles can pack one HE double hockey sticks of a wicked bite.

    :devil:
     
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  15. Mizzely

    Mizzely Joyriding the Neighborhood Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran Vendor I Can't Stop Posting! BINGO CHAMPION

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    For the most part, I have eyes on the birds because they are primarily kept in the dining room which looks into the living room. So I have eyes on them most of the time, but occasionally I have to go to other areas of the house (bathroom, kitchen, etc). I try to keep them contained so that the cats are not locked in the bedroom all day, but they have a good half of the house to fly freely in.

    It's usually when hormones first rev up in spring that he decides I am no longer his friend and will come down from the hanging perches to bite my scalp. After the first bite of the year I know to expect it more and so I make sure to keep a rope perch or thin blanket ready to either intercept (have him land on the perch or he shies away from the blanket) when I am doing something that triggers: getting up from the couch, or walking by the dining room, or entering the room with his cage. He does station because without stationing, I would never be able to feed him during the spring. He also "goes home" well so if I see he is revving for an attack, I direct him home, close the door and treat to distract so I can do what I need to do.

    Neither parrot steps up for me without biting, so I don't push the issue, I simply work around it with commands.

    So I have my ways of dealing with it for sure, and its not a constant barrage thankfully, but its really hard to anticipate some of them. Like the kitchen. I have never been attacked in there and he had to physically fly from the dining room, through the living room, down the hall, and into the kitchen to attack me. I didn't even have time to react because all I heard was wings behind me and then a beak in my scalp.

    Jingo also has a "snaggle tooth" - uneven upper beak - because of a prior injury so his bites hurt worse than a normal quaker would.
     
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  16. JLcribber

    JLcribber Joyriding the Neighborhood Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran Shutterbugs' Best

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    I use the "duck" method with smaller birds. We know the attack is coming. At the last second I duck (and fake them out) and take away that landing spot/target. They've got to change course and land somewhere else.

    It's the same principle as the T stick with big birds. Here comes the attack. Up goes the stick (pure defence). Land on the stick or go somewhere else. Just not on me.
     
  17. HolliDaze

    HolliDaze Jogging around the block

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    Dexter has bitten me a few times, but never hard. (For a too at least) I think he does it for attention of because he's overly excited. He jumps on my head/arm (I'm usually not interacting with him before this happens), flaps his wings really hard, leans forward and backwards, yelling. When he does this, he'll bite hard if I go near him with my hands (he put a hole in my nail, never broken skin) and bite whatever he is perched on, but softer than my hands. He does this to inanimate perches as well. I usually just shield my face and let him calm down.
    It usually happens with little warning on his part, at least nothing I have noticed yet, but I'll try and get a video.
    sorry maybe not the best place to ask about this...
    he also just hates my feet. I have to hide them.
     
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  18. Shinobi

    Shinobi Jogging around the block

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    I think that people should realise that parrots are not a domesticated animals like cats, dogs or horses.

    While a parrot can be trained, it doesn't mean that the birds instinct or hormones are trained.

    There are birds that will bite without any warning and others who have learnt bad behavior like biting. Usually by giving a bird a toy to distract them.

    But in reality the bird is being rewarded for biting. The bird just bit me so I give it a toy.

    Really !

    However it's true that most people don't know how to read a bird and get bitten. But if you're constantly being bitten then you need to step back and re-access how you are interacting with your bird.

     
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  19. Lady Jane

    Lady Jane Cruising the avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran

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    I agree.
     
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  20. BirdManDan

    BirdManDan Rollerblading along the road Vendor I Can't Stop Posting!

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    I agree with Elroy!!!!
     
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