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Advice for ornery Eckie

Atomiklan

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So Lada the female red sided Eckie is staying with me for a while. I am having some trouble working with her though and could use some advice other than from her parront.

Lada is 7 years old and generally VERY sweet and easy going. She is probably the most chill parrot on the planet. She almost never makes a sound, she will willingly step up onto strangers including kids and has even done a substantial amount of work with the mentally handicapped, so she has had her fair share of rough petting/handling I am sure. Nothing abusive of course. I'm just trying to highlight the fact that you can do anything to this bird and she is fine with it. She never bites.

Ever since she has been staying with me though I have a lot of trouble interacting with her. I was able to take her out of her cage at her parronts house, but when she stays with me, all she wants to do is stay in her cage and it is very difficult to get her out. She has never bitten me, however, she does occasionally do the "warning, about to bite" stance if I try to get her to step up in the cage. All she wants to do is stay in her cage. She only occasionally ventures outside. I work next to her all day and leave her cage door open. Yes I realize this is probably just posturing to get me to go away and in some ways potentially just a bluff that I have now been reinforcing... In comes the hand... puff up and look mean... hand goes away.

This in my opinion is not cage aggression, although it may be the start of it if I don't correct the behavior right away. Her parront just tells me, I need to be more assertive when asking her to step up to get her out of the cage. I try to do this, but it's just not really helping. She is on her own time. I also recognize that most people do NOT recommend letting them come and go from the cage as they please. It should be noted though that she will eventually step up (outside the cage, or at the cage boundary), especially if I bribe her with a treat. Then once she is with me, she is very sweet and we can hang out together around the house and she will generally step up on demand (not always, but usually). This is probably a textbook example of a common problem that I feel countless others have experienced. One other thought, I have read that generally you should not request them to step up from their "home" perch, as this is the equivalent of reaching into their house, and then more specifically, into their bedroom. Generally you should try to remove them from the cage at or near the door. Thoughts here?

Can anyone give some advice on how you think I should approach this to correct the behavior? Where should I start regarding some exercises? Should I keep trying to get her to step up inside the cage? Should I instead work on step up training outside the cage? Should I just give her more time to adjust? She knew me off and on before ever coming home. It has now been a few weeks that she has been with me. I will probably get a lot of "have patience" responses. I don't doubt this, I just get mixed signals from her. Some days she seems happy to oblige, and other days she seems to hate me. So on the happy days, its hard to imagine that she needs more time to adjust to me.

Thanks,
Andrew
 

Laurie

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Lots of great info and ideas and concerns expressed here.

First, as you suspect, patience. She won't act the same with you as she did with her owner, she also will not act the same in a different house.

Second, when working with parrots is is helpful to adopt a certain mindset. Something along the lines that the parrot should be allowed to do whatever it chooses. Nothing is bad or wrong. And the parrot is always right.

Certainly, there is behavior YOU don't like or YOU don't want and there are also behaviors YOU do want and do like.

The trick is to create a situation where the parrot will, of her own choosing, decide to do the behaviors you do like and not do the ones you don't like. In other words, you would like to increase the frequency of your desired behaviors and decrease the frequency of your undesired behaviors.

Now your situation, you want Lada to come out of her cage by stepping up when asked. She does this occasionally but you would like to increase the frequency with which she does it. You have tried several different ways to do it an have reported that "It should be noted though that she will eventually step up (outside the cage, or at the cage boundary), especially if I bribe her with a treat." THIS IS YOUR SOLUTION. Bribe her every time until she decides that just coming to you is sufficient motivation. Offering her a treat will increase the frequency with which she steps up when asked. It really is that simple :)

Anything that motivates Lada to step up would work. A treat, a toy, the desire to be out of the cage or the pleasure of your company. If treats are currently the only thing that motivates here that is the only thing you should use. Very likely as your relationship grows she will come out just to be with you.

She has never bitten me, however, she does occasionally do the "warning, about to bite" stance if I try to get her to step up in the cage. All she wants to do is stay in her cage. She only occasionally ventures outside. I work next to her all day and leave her cage door open. Yes I realize this is probably just posturing to get me to go away and in some ways potentially just a bluff that I have now been reinforcing... In comes the hand... puff up and look mean... hand goes away.
You are sort of right about this but she is not bluffing, she intends to bite you if the posturing does not work. Withdrawing your hand is exactly right. She is telling you to move and you are honoring her wish. This leads to great communication between you and her, it builds trust and it makes her feel secure. Doing anything other than removing your hand is telling her that you do not understand (or do not care) what she wants. This will force her to try a different method of communication, likely biting you. If that happens even once, you will have taught her that if she bites you then you remove your hand. She may conclude that posturing doesn't work and will skip straight to biting in the future. This is VERY difficult to reverse. Respect the signals she is sending you and you are well on your way to gaining her trust. Pair the good interactions with treats (or other positive reinforcers) and you will be building a wonderful relationship with Lada.

This in my opinion is not cage aggression, although it may be the start of it if I don't correct the behavior right away. Her parront just tells me, I need to be more assertive when asking her to step up to get her out of the cage. I try to do this, but it's just not really helping. She is on her own time.
True, but staying in the cage is her right so the only correction needed is never to try and force her to come out. The idea of being more assertive is outdated advice which has been scientifically proven to be detrimental to the relationship between human and animals. Yes, you may get the behavior you want in the moment but in the end you will see negative fall out from these forceful types of interactions.

Can anyone give some advice on how you think I should approach this to correct the behavior? Where should I start regarding some exercises? Should I keep trying to get her to step up inside the cage? Should I instead work on step up training outside the cage? Should I just give her more time to adjust?
I would work lure her to the edge of her cage with a treat, then use another treat to lure her to step up. Once out of her cage you can then work on step up to the hand and then step back on the perch. It could all be considered step up. This should help her get the idea what you want. Technically, it is the same behavior you are just generalizing it to different situations. If she needs time then give it to her but that doesn't necessarily sound like it is the issue to me.

Keep in mind that just as people may not be in the mood to socialize animals may not be either. This should be respected.

Does that help? If you are interested in more info on this training method. You can look into trainers like Barbara Heidenreich and Lara Joseph. Positive reinforcement training, clicker training and Applied Behavior Analysis.
 

Atomiklan

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Yes that was a FANTASTIC post and confirmed everything that I was personally feeling. I will continue to work with her as I have been. Step up training with treats. Thanks for the detailed reply. I appreciate the effort you put into it.
 

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@Laurie :goodjob:

That was a really good post!
Thanks!

Yes that was a FANTASTIC post and confirmed everything that I was personally feeling. I will continue to work with her as I have been. Step up training with treats. Thanks for the detailed reply. I appreciate the effort you put into it.
Great. That makes it all worthwhile. Keep up the good work.
 

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I just read this thread and I have a small question, why do people not reccomend letting the birds Come and go as they please, as You said in the first post? Nothing wrong or Anthing just curious! Keep up the good work with her!
 

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You are sort of right about this but she is not bluffing, she intends to bite you if the posturing does not work. Withdrawing your hand is exactly right. She is telling you to move and you are honoring her wish. This leads to great communication between you and her, it builds trust and it makes her feel secure. Doing anything other than removing your hand is telling her that you do not understand (or do not care) what she wants. This will force her to try a different method of communication, likely biting you. If that happens even once, you will have taught her that if she bites you then you remove your hand. She may conclude that posturing doesn't work and will skip straight to biting in the future. This is VERY difficult to reverse. Respect the signals she is sending you and you are well on your way to gaining her trust. Pair the good interactions with treats (or other positive reinforcers) and you will be building a wonderful relationship with Lada.
I just needed to say ditto, what a great post. I especially liked the way you worded the above. I wish I could say it as well as you did but now I will just quote you if needed!
 

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I just needed to say ditto, what a great post. I especially liked the way you worded the above. I wish I could say it as well as you did but now I will just quote you if needed!
Thank you so much ☺
 

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I just read this thread and I have a small question, why do people not reccomend letting the birds Come and go as they please, as You said in the first post? Nothing wrong or Anthing just curious! Keep up the good work with her!
Personally, I do not see a problem with letting them come and go to their cage as they wish other than with safety. If you have a safe room for them to be in then they can be free. My birds are housed in flight cages as pairs but when I don't have any babies, I have an extra room with no birds in it. I often will let a pair out loose in the room for several hours. Then have them go back.to their cages and I'll let a couple more out. The room is bird proofed and I haven't had any issues with it.
 

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I just read this thread and I have a small question, why do people not reccomend letting the birds Come and go as they please, as You said in the first post? Nothing wrong or Anthing just curious! Keep up the good work with her!

I NEVER force my birds out of their cage unless it's a matter or emergency or there is no choice (vet visit). I do not see a reason why they can't come and go as they please.
 

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I NEVER force my birds out of their cage unless it's a matter or emergency or there is no choice (vet visit). I do not see a reason why they can't come and go as they please.
Ooo like that! I thought there was Something wrong with that, my birds have their own/shared with me room at the moment and I wondered if I was doing Something wrong!:rofl:
 

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Personally, I do not see a problem with letting them come and go to their cage as they wish other than with safety. If you have a safe room for them to be in then they can be free. My birds are housed in flight cages as pairs but when I don't have any babies, I have an extra room with no birds in it. I often will let a pair out loose in the room for several hours. Then have them go back.to their cages and I'll let a couple more out. The room is bird proofed and I haven't had any issues with it.
Ah that sounds like fun for the birdies! I like it that you have them in pairs:D thanks!
 

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I can think of instances where I would want to move them in or out of the cage, like when I'm moving rooms and have one or two with me... or when I need them to go back so I can let different ones out.

@Atomiklan do you have a perch for her to hang out on when she isn't in the cage?
 

Atomiklan

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Yes, she has a few options. There is a perch on the inside of the door that swings out when I open the door (She does come out to this a few times per day). I also put a ladder over to my kitchen table where I have one of Charlie & Emma's custom perches (She will occasionally and nervously come down this to eat on the table). Then finally I also have the playstand on the table. She seems to be getting more difficult to get out of the cage (This picture below was from the first week I had her and she was a LOT more willing to come out then). I get what everyone is saying regarding not forcing them out of the cage. In a lot of ways, I agree with that, however I also see the flip side of it. By just letting them come and go as they please, in some cases, it reinforces a sense of independence. ie they do what they like when they like, and that makes things very difficult with training and moving her when I need to. Part of me feels I would be completely fine with her coming and going as she pleases, assuming she also would listen to me when necessary. Right now I feel like I have to plan HOURS in advance if I need to take her somewhere and then sometimes I feel like I am having to trick her out of the cage and block her return path. I try to use positive reinforcement and reward when doing this, but part of me feels like its still having the opposite effect, ie she resists coming out the cage because she assumes that I am going to try to take her away to another room, to the couch, into the travel cage, etc. and that I am going to remove her ladder and or close her main cage door so she is becoming more resistant to coming out. Also, I cant get her out with enough frequency yet to really make a positive impact ie come out of the cage, get a reward, go right back in cage. Obviously she just needs more time, but I worry because with time, she seems to be going in the opposite direction. For reference, I have only been trying once maybe every other day for a few seconds to see if she is willing to step up inside the cage. I get no reaction currently. No posturing lately, but no other reaction either. She just looks at me like I'm crazy/stupid haha. Other than that, I just work from my laptop there at the table the rest of the day talking with her and the finches. The finches do hang outside quite a bit. Could they be influencing her? She definitely does not like the finches... You should be able to see door perch, ladder, and play stand in background.

IMG_20171001_212345.jpg

Just for clarity, I am not aggressively blocked her getting back into cage. That would immediately explain why she is behaving this way. If I need to take her somewhere, I try to get her out AND comfortable on the playstand or munching on the table. At some point during this, I calmly remove her ladder and she doesn't mind. She doesn't panic or frantically try to get back. She doesn't care. So as far as I can tell, she's not feeling trapped. Once I am able to break that attachment to the cage I am able to move her about, put her in a travel cage, take her upstairs or outside for a shower, etc. Its really weird. Its like she comes out of a trance once she is disconnected from the cage lol.
 
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Atomiklan

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"It should be noted though that she will eventually step up (outside the cage, or at the cage boundary), especially if I bribe her with a treat." THIS IS YOUR SOLUTION. Bribe her every time until she decides that just coming to you is sufficient motivation.
Yeah, loosing the ability to do even this it seems. When she does come to the cage edge or onto the door perch, I try to bribe her to step up with a treat and she just retreats back into the cage.
 

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OK I am not the best at bird training but I am mama to ornery Ernie and that should count for something! Here's what I would do.

Try multiple times a day. But put your arm up there like you mean it, and say Step Up in a commanding voice, then sort of move your arm against her so that she sort of has to step or at least lift a foot. I'm not saying push to force her - that won't work - but enough to say "I mean business, bird." I actually have done this while looking off in some other direction "oops! knocked you off balance! Oh well step up"

Have you tested her out with 5 different treats on a plate to see which is her favorite? Your bribe treat should be YUMMY. You could also remove her food 30 min before, then she'd be more interested in the bribe.


Since she doesn't like the finches, consider a routine where you shut them in their cage then tell her you did so. Then get her out and go away from the cage, out of sight from it. After a day or two of doing this at the same time, she will know this is 'her' time with you and those pesky littles are tucked away.

Any time she does ANYTHING that remotely moves her toward your goal -- - cheer! Dance! Shout! I cheer and clap. Some of mine don't like this, so you'll have to see how she reacts. Ernie couldn't care less. The tiels will do things and wait for me to cheer and applaud, then repeat it 20 times. LOL They performed about 8 times better after I started this.

Use a clicker. It helps.
 

Atomiklan

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Will give it a go starting tomorrow. Let the record reflect... I have all 10 digits today hahaha.

Oh and yes, blueberries at fresh fruit time and walnuts. I pretty much exclusively use walnuts as that seems to be her absolute favorite.

I will try a more rigorous finch schedule too. Luckily Emma is nesting down now after her third egg, so she probably wont come out for another month or so haha. Of course that means I get to deal with the trouble maker Charlie now 100% of the time... :)
 
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Laurie

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then sort of move your arm against her so that she sort of has to step or at least lift a foot. I'm not saying push to force her - that won't work - but enough to say "I mean business, bird." I actually have done this while looking off in some other direction "oops! knocked you off balance! Oh well step up"
.
I just wanted to nit pick this a little, i hope you don't mind finchly. This method works but, especially if the bird doesn't trust you she may associate the unpleasant experience of being knocked off balance with you, and that can backfire.

I was thought this same method but I've learn the treat, luring, bribing method works best.
 

finchly

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I just wanted to nit pick this a little, i hope you don't mind finchly. This method works but, especially if the bird doesn't trust you she may associate the unpleasant experience of being knocked off balance with you, and that can backfire.

I was thought this same method but I've learn the treat, luring, bribing method works best.
No worries! I expected at least one person to disagree. ;)

If luring and bribing works - I am all about bribery.
 
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