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Conure Sudden Change in Behavior - Feather Growth? Or More Serious Problem?

pc2716

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Hey everyone,

I'm new to the site :) My pineapple conure is only 6 months old and she's been going through her first molt for over three months now. Her attitude during the molt is what we expected from reading the forums, but recently her mood has changed drastically. She was a huge snuggler and very sweet before the molt. With the molt she's been biting (better recently after setting boundaries) and overall agitated. Just a week ago she lost two of her long tail feathers and started to grow in the replacements. There was no change in behavior at that time. Those two feathers are no about 1 inch long and she's changed to the point where I haven't been taking her out. She's clipped still from when we bought her and this morning she shot right out of the cage onto my husband's shirt puffed up and trying to bite everything. We put her back and let her calm down. Later in the day we tried to take her out again and she's been biting skin and fingers hard for no reason. She's now suddenly territorial over her cage trying to attack fingers that come near the bars or when we try and refill her food. She's been so aggressive lately that she's managed to get out of her food dish opening and onto the cage all puffed up with her beak open trying to bite. We are hoping it's just a stage associated with the molt because we went from a calm trustworthy cuddle bug to now this territorial monster. I've read it's normal for a bird to be territorial over their cage if they love it, but this doesn't seem to be the same thing as we never put our hands in to invade her space and always let her come out to us.

Please tell us your thoughts!
 

Mizzely

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Hey everyone,

we went from a calm trustworthy cuddle bug to now this territorial monster.


This is the reason I don't adopt babies anymore. They are heartbreakers!

How big is her cage? What types of toys does she have to entertain herself with? What is her diet like? What is a normal routine in your home? How are you reacting to her? Is she bathing often during the molt?
 

pc2716

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She has the Prevue Pagoda so it's 24 x 22 x 58. She actually small enough in the cage that she's able to fly a bit from one perch to the other.

As for toys she has four favorites: rubber ball with bell, a keychain with colored animals, a big shredder, and a mirror with beads. She also has a second shredder in there, a big tassel that she climbs and sleeps in, and a bouncy spiral perch with a bell. She spend her day completely occupied rotating between the four favorites and bouncing around on her spiral perch.

Her food is pellet and vitasmart. She also gets "just veggies" every day, fresh fruit and vegetables, and dried fruit safe for birds mixed into her feed or when she's out of her cage.

She loves baths and screeches with excitement at the sound of running water. If we have her out near a sink she's in the sink for a bath whether you like it or not so she tends to get a bath every other day if not every day if she's persistent.

We've tried putting her on the ground and ignoring her as a lesson not to bite and this has helped some with the original attitude change when the molt first began. But this is ineffecive now. We've also been able in the past to cover her with the bottom of our shirt and lightly hold her and she'd calm right down. This isn't work anymore either. We've read putting back in the cage is a bad punishment because it's her home but she's not fully potty trained yet since she can't fly and we don't want her wandering around doing whatever she pleases.

Our normal routine is that I wake up and take her out. She's out for an hour before I have to sit down and get to work. I usually take her out when I take breaks and if she's being good she can stay out while I work, but she's hyperactive and usually incapable of sitting still so I'll have her work on a shredder ball on my desk until she starts trying to nibble on my keyboard and then I put her back for playtime in her cage. She's usually taken out again in the evening for snuggles. This routine hasn't changed.

Hope this helps!
 

Mizzely

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How is she "taken out"? Do you open the door and let her come out?

What is happening before the attacks?

Try to look at it from her perspective too.

Yay its morning, my human is here!
Oh... back in the cage by myself.
Oh yay she's back!
And now I'm back in the cage by myself.
I'm having fun!
Ooops, back in the cage.

Do you have any bird approved areas she can play on besides the cage?
 

pc2716

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There's nothing specific or different going on before the attacks. She's very needy and typically won't play on her own when she's out of her cage. Only if the toy is on you will she even attempt to play with it.

She's always allowed to come to us out of the cage. Typically she's popping out of the cage in excitement to get onto a finger or shirt so there's no hesitation in her coming out for playtime. The back and forth between her cage during the day is on a pretty regular schedule so I don't think it's too surprising for her. If she sees me walk by she pops up to her perch she uses to climb out. If we took her out every time she wanted to then she'd never be in her cage. We often say she's a human bird because she's happier out with her humans more than anything.
 

Mizzely

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I didn't mean it was surprising. I meant that it's just not what she wants and biting might be a way to show that. How far away are you when she's in the cage?

I would work on an area away from the cage that is near to you but that she can play by herself. It will take training to do. I went through this with Gizmo. But I think it might help.

You're her flock. It is unnatural, especially for an immature bird, to be alone. They do everything together. It goes against their survival instincts.

If we took her out every time she wanted to then she'd never be in her cage.

This is why we've still got the cages but thet aren't closed! It's been easier for us! Jingo screams 8 to 10 hours a day if he's locked up. My brain can't handle it
 

pc2716

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I would think being alone during the day in her cage would have changed her disposition a long time ago since this has been her routine for the past five months. The sudden change in behavior was only last week.
 

Mizzely

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Well, I can only make suggestions based on the information provided and my own experience with a bird that dive bombs and attacks. Hopefully someone else will be along to help you further.
 

greys4u

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I read that you had a mirror toy, if so, take that out of the cage, she might think its another bird. Talk to her during the day, give a treat as you walk by and call your avian vet and ask about the molt and the sudden behavior change
 
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finchly

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Does she have a lot of new feathers coming in? Maybe they hurt?
 

JLcribber

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You don't have a baby anymore. Now you're (starting) to have a real Conure. Nothing unusual.
 

karen256

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I don't think the problem is really related to molting. Molting may make a bird a little itchy/uncomfortable, and sometimes a little irritable, but for the most part, it won't cause any large behavior changes. I think your main issue is your GCC is hitting adolescence. It's still just a phase, though.

It sounds like you are doing things right by allowing her to come out of the cage on her own and keeping her routine the same. You don't want her to learn that biting can let her get her way, and you definitely don't want to stop handling her. Keep in mind it's a phase, she's testing boundaries, if you continue to handle her and work with her right, she will get through it. You may have a difficult few months, but usually they pass through this phase and go back to being mostly sweet birds if handled right. Some find they can even become sweeter after that adolescent phase.

There are a few things you can do to help out a little. Give her less seed - and pick out the sunflower seeds and save them only for special rewards. A little basic trick training, even just target training, can help a lot. For example, you can teach her to come out and touch a target stick when you open the cage, and that will distract her from charging out to bite. You should also teach her to step onto a hand held perch, just so you can always have a way to carry her without getting bit.

Let her have baths as often as she wants as long as she will have time to dry off before bed. It will help make molting more comfortable, but more importantly, it's a great way for her her to burn off some of that extra energy.

Another thing you might consider, is using a smaller sleep cage for her. Usually, territorial behavior is centered around what they view as a nest - usually their sleeping area. Once she gets used to her sleep cage, her aggression away from the sleep cage may be lessened. It's also more natural for them to spend the day away from where they sleep.
 
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