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Conure Wants to Cuddle, Once I Pet Him He Bites Hard! PLEASE HELP!

kelseyjane

Checking out the neighborhood
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9/10/20
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Real Name
Kelsey
This is a long post, but I really need help. I've had my conure for over a year and a half, and I'm still struggling to figure him out ):

I have a Yellow-Sided Green-Cheeked Conure named Mowgli. He is 1 year and 9 months old, and I've had him for 1 year and 5 months now. I don't know the gender officially (I'm pretty sure it's a boy) so for the sake of my post let's go with male lol. At this point, I've already gone through many stages with him and I still can't figure him out): My husband and I got Mowgli from a local bird store, he was hand fed and 4 months old. I was the one who wanted a bird, so although my husband does not spend a ton of "up-close" time with him, Mowgli is still used to his presence. I bonded with him immediately and within weeks I was able to pet him, help with pin-feathers, cuddle, and he seemed overall content. I did my research (he's my first bird) and it seemed like I had gained his trust and things were going well.

After about 2-3 months he started showing hormonal/mating behaviors towards me when I held him. When he did that I would just put him down for a little bit. He would also screech whenever I left the room. I didn't think too much of it because I assumed it was a phase - he was still young. Eventually that subsided when he started his first molt, which lasted forever and truly sucked. He became very aggressive towards anyone who wasn't me, and would not let anyone (including my husband, who used to be able to handle him) hold or pet him. Even with me he would occasionally nip when I was holding him or trying to help with his preening, which he would usually let me do. Finally, when it seemed like his molt was over, things got only slightly better. He still wants to bite pretty much everyone who comes into contact with him (except for me). Occasionally with some confidence/patience, a few of my friends have been able to hold him without him biting, and even successfully give him head scratches that he enjoys. But, oftentimes he'll seem like he's comfortable and happy and then he'll suddenly chomp down on their hand causing them to never want to touch him again ‍♀ at this point pretty much everyone does not want to hold him because they are scared he'll bite. This is obviously heartbreaking for me because I've seen how sweet he can be in the past.

Now, I'm am even more distraught because he has started to bite me more and more frequently. He calls out to me and wants my attention, and readily hops on my finger to get out of his cage. I talk to him sweetly while he chills on my finger, and he ruffles his feathers/wags his tail/chirps back to me/etc. Seems like he's overall happy to be getting attention. Then, he'll even rub his head against my fingers, looking to get head scratches. Of course I oblige, start scratching his head, and he closes his eyes and enjoys. Then after a few seconds he chomps down on my finger so hard it breaks the skin and takes a small chunk out of my finger! Of course I yelp and immediately shake my hand to get him to stop, and I put him down. Then he goes straight back in his cage. I'm so frustrated because he now does this almost every time I try to cuddle or pet him. When I first got him, I used to let him cuddle up to my neck. He would chill there and fall asleep all snuggled up. He'd give me kisses and preen my hair. Now when I put him on my shoulder/chest/neck, he gets all excited and starts preening and snuggling and then all of a sudden he'll bite super hard! I'm so sad because I just want to give him attention and snuggle and he keeps acting like he wants to and then bites! It hurts so bad and I know some people say to just not react but it's so difficult when he bites that hard. I've been spending a lot more time with him because I'm working from home, but I'm now a little nervous to do anything with him other than give him treats, talk to him, and just hold him on my finger (but not pet him). I'm fearful of being bitten! It's been a few weeks and I just tried scratching his head again to test the water (he was rubbing his head against my finger) and of course he bit me super hard!

Thank you for reading up to this point, I know it's a long post. I wanted to give the whole backstory so you'd have a better idea of the situation. I wonder if it's territorial, hormonal, or maybe jealousy? What should I do? Please help!!!!
 

Bookwyrm

Sprinting down the street
Joined
6/15/20
Messages
303
Sounds like hormones to me.
You've got to be careful with your interaction with birds, especially if they're young.
May I ask how you're petting him? You shouldn't be touching any part of him besides his head and neck. You can't pet birds like you would a cat or a dog. If you are supper snuggly with a bird when they're super young, they may start to think you're their mate.

My main suggestion at this point is to stop interacting with him using your hands. It's painful for you, and it's not making any improvements with his behavior.
I know that it sucks. Really.
But try using a perch to move him around for now. Don't scratch him, don't have him step up onto your hand. For now, try just doing some hands off training. (You can use a thing of millet as a treat- this helps keep a little distance between you and the bird). Try offering smaller bits first, though, but if he bites you instead of taking the treat, then move to a stick of millet. Try target training, doing a flip, or other tricks that can be done without him standing on you.

Also, when he screams, just ignore it. Pretend like it isn't happening.

I hope this helps! Good luck with everything! Hopefully with time you can get your bird back!
 

Forest

Strolling the yard
Joined
4/1/20
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126
Location
In a deep dark wood...
My GCC, Cedar, is a biter. My hands are covered in scars because it took me waaaay too long to learn to stop putting my hands in front of his face.:headsmack:

I tried to educate myself on the signs of avian aggression, I read everything I could find on the subject. But Cedar is a stealth biter. I swear he shows no signs! No fluffed feathers, no flattened feathers, no leaning forward with an open beak, no hissing or growling. The other major signal of aggression is useless because his eyes are dark, so if he's eye pinning I can't see it! My other birds show all the signs if they're uncomfortable, so I can stop whatever is bothering them before it gets to the biting stage - all the articles say biting is the last resort. But Cedar will look totally relaxed, and then if the dreaded hand approaches he just chomps, clamps down, and grinds. He bites for keeps.

At the same time, he loves attention. He wants to be with me all the time and follows me everywhere. He loves to stand on my head and play with my hair. He squeaks with happiness every time I come home from work. He's actually very affectionate, just only on his terms. If he stands on a particular perch near me, and makes a particular squeak, I know it's safe to offer my hand (close, but not too close; it has to be jumping distance not stepping distance). And he'll jump on my hand, give me a few affectionate and gentle (for him) nibbles, then snuggle in and go to sleep. As long as I don't try to touch him with The Other Hand (cue ominous music). The Other Hand is scary and dangerous and must be eliminated.

My other GCC, Juniper, loves hands and thinks they are marvelous things for giving scritches and bringing treats. She is blissfully unaware of the horror that is The Other Hand (cue ominous music).

I used to think that with time Cedar would become more like Juniper. Now I think this is who he is. He's basically a hands-off bird. But he's still sweet, and loving, and wonderful!
 

Arenosa

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7/17/23
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I know that this post is old but I was wondering if you were able to correct his behavior. I’m in the same situation with my conure. I’ll be petting his head and then he’ll chomp down on my finger without warning.
 

expressmailtome

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I know that this post is old but I was wondering if you were able to correct his behavior. I’m in the same situation with my conure. I’ll be petting his head and then he’ll chomp down on my finger without warning.
This member never logged back in after making this post, so you unfortunately will not receive a reply.
 
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