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BabyBirdMa

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I have 9 birds in total, all rescues: 4 Budgies, 4 Conures and an African Grey. October, last year, I rescued 2 of my 4 Conures: A male and a female Greencheek, both 6 years old. They had no names when they were turned in, which I found odd that someone could own birds for 6 years and never name them, they were housed beneath 4 extremely loud Lovebirds in a really narrow cage, they barely had any toys and the female had a completely bald head. The store owner tried to blame the male for this but the male seems extremely protective of the female so I don’t think it was him.

The aggression she shows toward human hands and especially gloves leads me to believe she was horribly abused by her previous owner. She always jumps up on the cage bars when me or someone in my family approaches, she sticks her beak through the bars, trying to lick and bite us at the same time. She chatters a lot, completely destroys any toys or huts placed in her cage, even going as far as to pull the liner up through the bars just to rip it to shreds. The male is nowhere near as aggressive or destructive but both will not hesitate to bite any nearby flesh. The male also constantly puffs up his neck at any humans that approach the cage. Yesterday, I was letting the male play with my hair like he always does (I have a thick scalp so this doesn’t hurt) when he climbed onto my head. He proceeded to just sit on my head calmly while I cleaned the other bird’s cages.

The female soon flew over to join him, landing on my back. The male did not attack me but the female would bite my back at random, hard enough to draw blood. I was still very happy because I felt like they had bonded with me, grown to trust me. Today, I got the male to climb onto my head to show my mom how we had bonded. The female soon flew over, landing on my shoulder but then she started biting my neck several times.

I put my hand up to shield my jugular but she turned her aggression to my hand, biting it several times and flapping her wings as she bit all over. For some reason, this prompted the male to bite my forehead hard enough to draw blood. I’m not sure what I did to trigger this or if they had been planning this attack all along but I feel awful. I searched around for advice on Conure aggression but all sites just tell me to basically give them the cold shoulder. I’m not sure that’s the best way to handle this, especially after what they’ve been through.

I’m afraid shunning them will only make things worse. Is there a gentler way to handle this type of aggression? A loving approach that doesn’t involve shunning them or making them feel punished? I don’t want to punish them, that’s the last thing I want to do; I want to make them feel safe enough in their own home to trust me.
 

Blueberry

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Oh man that sounds pretty painful and frightening! I would not have the female conure out at the same time you’re interacting with the male. Have you tried taking them out separately to do clicker training with them. Congratulations on your birds! It’s really great you rescued them and are giving them a better life!
 

Monica

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In all honesty, the best approach to this issue is going to feel like you are punishing them! Please do not think of it that way! Instead, think of it as a "reset" of sorts!


My recommendation with birds who are attacking is to work with them through the cage.

1.) The more a bird has to practice an undesired behavior, the more that behavior gets 'rewarded' - or rather, ingrained to continue

2.) If you do it right, you can avoid bites while training through the cage bars!

The simplest training can start by merely setting up a metal treat cup at the front of the cage and any time you walk by the cage, drop a treat into that cup! No need to stop, stare, talk or anything, just drop and go! (do two separate bowls for two birds if they share a cage!)

Once the bird becomes eager for your presence, you can start target training and station training THROUGH the cage bars. This can help to not only prevent bites, but also help with cage aggression! You can drop a reward into a cup inside the cage, have the bird reach through the bars in order to receive the reward, or offer the reward via a spoon. Either way, figure out how to reward desired behavior without getting bitten!

Once the bird can reliably target to any location within the cage, then open up the door and continue training through the open door and around the outside of the cage. You can eventually work away from the cage as well.

Anyone the bird attacks should also do this behavior, if they are willing. If they aren't, well station training can be used to teach the bird to ignore that person instead and help to focus on you!




The reason for her aggression could simply be because she was "trained" to be that way. I also wouldn't be surprised if she was a hand raised bird that became aggressive due to improper handling! Parent raised birds prefer avoiding people. (generally speaking)

It also sounds like whoever had the pair may have been trying to breed them. Breeders often don't name their breeding pairs! I've also had "pet" birds that never truly had a name... I just enjoy them for who they are! :)
 

webchirp

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I defer to Monica on training but I also want to point out that it is hormone time and most with issues of this type will be even more excessive during these months.
 

BabyBirdMa

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Oh man that sounds pretty painful and frightening! I would not have the female conure out at the same time you’re interacting with the male. Have you tried taking them out separately to do clicker training with them. Congratulations on your birds! It’s really great you rescued them and are giving them a better life!
Not yet but I have been considering it. I’m not sure how to click train but I considered just taking the male out and interacting with him so he can tell the female that I’m nothing to be afraid of after our bonding sessions. I was hoping that watching me interact with my other birds would show them that I’m not a threat by now, though. :( I just wish I knew what was making her this upset.
 

BabyBirdMa

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I defer to Monica on training but I also want to point out that it is hormone time and most with issues of this type will be even more excessive during these months.
Should I just give her some space until hormone season is over?
 

BabyBirdMa

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In all honesty, the best approach to this issue is going to feel like you are punishing them! Please do not think of it that way! Instead, think of it as a "reset" of sorts!


My recommendation with birds who are attacking is to work with them through the cage.

1.) The more a bird has to practice an undesired behavior, the more that behavior gets 'rewarded' - or rather, ingrained to continue

2.) If you do it right, you can avoid bites while training through the cage bars!

The simplest training can start by merely setting up a metal treat cup at the front of the cage and any time you walk by the cage, drop a treat into that cup! No need to stop, stare, talk or anything, just drop and go! (do two separate bowls for two birds if they share a cage!)

Once the bird becomes eager for your presence, you can start target training and station training THROUGH the cage bars. This can help to not only prevent bites, but also help with cage aggression! You can drop a reward into a cup inside the cage, have the bird reach through the bars in order to receive the reward, or offer the reward via a spoon. Either way, figure out how to reward desired behavior without getting bitten!

Once the bird can reliably target to any location within the cage, then open up the door and continue training through the open door and around the outside of the cage. You can eventually work away from the cage as well.

Anyone the bird attacks should also do this behavior, if they are willing. If they aren't, well station training can be used to teach the bird to ignore that person instead and help to focus on you!




The reason for her aggression could simply be because she was "trained" to be that way. I also wouldn't be surprised if she was a hand raised bird that became aggressive due to improper handling! Parent raised birds prefer avoiding people. (generally speaking)

It also sounds like whoever had the pair may have been trying to breed them. Breeders often don't name their breeding pairs! I've also had "pet" birds that never truly had a name... I just enjoy them for who they are! :)
Thank you for the advice! :laugh: I’ll give this a try and encourage my mom to do the same when I’m at work. My babies have names now; I even let them pick their own names by listing a bunch of names and naming them based on the reaction to said-name. The male has since been named: “Shades” and the female has since been named: “Daenerys,” “Danny” for short. Kinda fitting given her nature. :rofl: Makes sense that they may have been a breeding pair. I think they were definitely breeding the Lovebirds. The pair do try to mate a lot but no eggs have been laid. I have just now come to an epiphany that they may have given them away because one or both may have become infertile which really upsets me that they were treated like objects. Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful things happened the way they did because they’re with me now but I still don’t like how most of my rescues were treated like objects by their old owners. Six years of their life; that’s how they were treated.
 

Monica

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I guess a good question may be, are you sure they are male and female?

I've come across some breeders who will swear up and down that a same sex pair is a breeding pair! Only, two males will never lay eggs... and two females will never lay fertile eggs! (one exception aside... rare to occur...) It's a bit infuriating, especially to those who WANT to breed the birds and find out that this so called "proven pair" is actually a same sex pair!
 

BabyBirdMa

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I guess a good question may be, are you sure they are male and female?

I've come across some breeders who will swear up and down that a same sex pair is a breeding pair! Only, two males will never lay eggs... and two females will never lay fertile eggs! (one exception aside... rare to occur...) It's a bit infuriating, especially to those who WANT to breed the birds and find out that this so called "proven pair" is actually a same sex pair!
You know? I’m not really sure now that I think about it. Is it common for same-sex birds to try and mate with each other, though? I know this is common with dogs but I’m not sure if birds are the same way or not..
 

Monica

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Yup!

Conures and larger species may be more likely to "complete" the act in a same sex couple. My experience was with two male budgies... when there were no females around. Neither one wanted bottom position so they never completed the act! :facepalm: It's not like they got any action when there were females around! :rofl:
 

BabyBirdMa

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Yup!

Conures and larger species may be more likely to "complete" the act in a same sex couple. My experience was with two male budgies... when there were no females around. Neither one wanted bottom position so they never completed the act! :facepalm: It's not like they got any action when there were females around! :rofl:
:rofl: They might both be males since there was no egg production at all, not even infertile eggs. At least Danny can be a boy’s name too.
 

BirdView

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Yup!

Conures and larger species may be more likely to "complete" the act in a same sex couple. My experience was with two male budgies... when there were no females around. Neither one wanted bottom position so they never completed the act! :facepalm: It's not like they got any action when there were females around! :rofl:
Monica, How long mating last in conures? I have a quaker and a conure who engage in mating action almost everyday. Their mating sessions are very long for birds and can last up 10 minutes. The quaker is always on the top while the conure who I suspect is a female on the bottom flapping her wing during mating. I get annoyed every time I see them. The quaker is much bigger than the conure and I feel she might get hurt or cause her to start laying.
 

BabyBirdMa

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Monica, How long mating last in conures? I have a quaker and a conure who engage in mating action almost everyday. Their mating sessions are very long for birds and can last up 10 minutes. The quaker is always on the top while the conure who I suspect is a female on the bottom flapping her wing during mating. I get annoyed every time I see them. The quaker is much bigger than the conure and I feel she might get hurt or cause her to start laying.
Is it safe to house two different bird species in the same cage, especially if one it larger than the other?
 

Monica

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@BirdView They could mate every single day if they wanted to... for however long they want! As long as the triggers are there, and they are together, there's nothing stopping them! You could always keep them separate in different cages/have separate out of cage time and/or work on station training to keep them apart.


@BabyBirdMa anyone who keeps different sized birds together needs to take responsibility if ever an issue were to arise. This can also go for birds who are the same size, about, but personalities are completely different.
 

BabyBirdMa

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@BirdView They could mate every single day if they wanted to... for however long they want! As long as the triggers are there, and they are together, there's nothing stopping them! You could always keep them separate in different cages/have separate out of cage time and/or work on station training to keep them apart.


@BabyBirdMa anyone who keeps different sized birds together needs to take responsibility if ever an issue were to arise. This can also go for birds who are the same size, about, but personalities are completely different.
Ah, okay.
 
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