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Rhi95

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Hi all, first time user/poster here, brace yourself for a long post.

We have two IRN’s, a female approx. 2+ years old and a male, we’re assuming around the same age (has his full ring). Both were purchased from a store specifically selling only birds from local breeders.

Anyway, here’s a bit of background about the birds. Nana, our lutino female, was the first IRN we had gotten. The shop didn’t recommend her as she had a bit of an attitude problem, being known as the biter of the bunch. This didn’t really scare us as these behaviours can be worked around with patience and she appeared quite sweet to us. When we got her home we noticed she was a pretty loving bird, it didn’t take long to build trust with her and get her to step up on our arms. We did notice, and still notice she is hesitant with hands, perhaps someone in her life had handled her quite badly making her scared of them, fair enough. But we worked around that, and try not to use our hands as much, but used treats to teach her our hands aren’t going to hurt her. Since then, she enjoys being on our shoulders, whispering in our ears, speaking a couple of phrases we worked hard to teach her. All in all, she’s a pretty great bird. At the time, we were working pretty heavy hours at our old jobs and noticed she was getting a bit neglected so we decided to get her a companion, another IRN but male. We thought if they did bond, have babies, that sort of thing wouldn’t be a problem, we would work around it if she was happy and not lonely.

Now let me introduce Ollie, a olive/dark green IRN. This boy was a lot and still is very different to Nana. He was very quiet And quite scared when we got him. We have worked very hard with him to hand tame him, teach him phrases and try gain his trust. He was an older bird when we got him, think late teenage years in bird years, because we wanted to get a bird around the same age as Nana. He’s managed to pick up a few phrases like ‘pretty bird’, wolf whistling and ‘whatcha doing’ but other then that he chooses not to really learn anything else. We thought this was odd as most of what I’ve read and seen of IRNs is that males tend to pick up these things quicker, but not Ollie. Ollie is still not really hand tamed, has shown absolutely no interested in wanted to be handled, wanting to step up, land on you, sit on your shoulder, nothing. He still flies around like mad whenever you go near him. He trusts us to feed him treats by hand, but let me tell you, took a very long time for him to even consider coming near us for that. So instead of pushing it and making him even more scared, we worked with how/who he was, not an overly affectionate bird. We decided to purchase a very large cage so if he didn’t come out, we would still have plenty of space to occupy himself and be comfortable. And so both him and Nana could be in the same cage eventually. Well, queue the beginning of the problems. Before merging them both into the same cage, we wanted to take this process slow, have their cages near eachother, and slowly moving them closer and closer together until they were pretty much side by side, just so they could grow used to eachother. Well, Ollie became absolutely obsessed with Nana, which we somewhat expected, him being a Male and her being a very pretty female. After a few weeks of them being side by side, we decided to let Nana out so she could fly around his cage and get to know him, and so we could see how she would handled him being so close to her. This all seemed fine, she was somewhat curious but then her attention would turn back to us and she’d forget all about him. We thought this was a good sign that perhaps they would get along, oh how wrong we were wrong. So next step, was getting them both out and seeing how they dealt with each other. At first everything seemed quite civil, there was curiosity and then they would do their own thing. Ollie was always quite happy just sitting on top of his cage people watching, while Nana would be on one of our shoulders watching what we were doing. For the first few times we let them out together they always seemed fine until one day. Ollie started becoming obsessive with Nana, constantly wanted to be near her, trying to whoo her etc. Nana didn’t take to this well, she would give a very obvious ‘back off’ screech every time he would attempt anything, and for a while that kind of worked, Ollie would back off and eventually give up. But that didn’t last long either, eventually Nana started building up quite the aggression towards him, even if he wasn’t near her. She enjoyed tempting him with her breeding behaviours, laying low, tilting head back and making weird noises, Ollie only having one thing on his mind would take this invitation only for it to lead to her standing up straight and lunging at him while screeching then proceeding to chase him to try bite him. It got so bad, at one stage she chased him, jumped onto his back and tried attacking between his wings, giving him quite the shock. Noticing this behaviour immediately, we decided to only have them out separately from then on, as we didn’t want either of our birds getting hurt and Nana had started quite an obsession with getting him, chasing him and tormenting him. She had absolutely no interest in being near him unless it were to attack him.

We worked around this issue, we bought another Xlarge cage and just had them slightly side by side but not together. This seemed to work quite fine, other then Ollie still being obsessed with wanting Nana, we kept telling him, she’s playing hard to get and isn’t interested buddy, but got to give him credit for his spirit, he still tries to whoo her. Doing everything separately with them works quite well and has resolved most of the aggression, atleast she has the company but there isn’t any pressure on her and they both enjoy talking to each other, that’s what matters.

Now our real issue, the one we can’t seem to work around or shake and which is absolutely destroying our sanity. Over the last few months, these two semi quite birds which only made their loud calls, occasional screams etc once or twice a day has now turned into all day every day. From the crack of dawn until dusk they screech and scream. We have tried what feels like every option to prevent this, ignoring them/leaving the room when they start, rewarding them when they are quite, giving them plenty of toys, foraging/destroying toys, fresh produce, large water baths in the cages but nothing is shaking this behaviour, in fact it has gotten so much worse. From the moment the sun makes an appearance in the morning they are screaming none stop, we keep them covered until we are up out of bed and this has always been what we’ve done, then we uncover them, give them attention and treats and normally that’s all they want and they go on about their day.

Now, whether they’re covered or not, they scream, whether we’re present or not, screaming. It seems nothing we do can shake this behaviour and we’re at the last of our sanity, every morning we are woken to the screaming, there is no peace and quite in the day anymore and I can feel my patience slipping. We attempted to put them in their own room, have music on for them whenever we’re not home, even if we are, we tend to leave it on and this used to quiet them down. Not even getting them out for attention helps anymore as they still scream, sometimes right in your ear/face. It’s gotten to the point our only option is to cover them until they’re quiet, this works occasionally but most of the time not even that helps. We’ve ended up having to keep them outside because we can’t seem to have any peace and the noise just echoes through the house, and we got so sick of being woken up insanely early due to their noise.

But now, I worry about our neighbours, as we live in a rental the last thing we need is for someone to complain about the noise, in all honestly I wouldn’t blame them. It’s almost gotten to the point where we might have to permanently move them up the back of the yard to prevent ourselves and neighbours hearing it. We’ve considered maybe having to rehome Ollie if this is the issue, as the screaming has only really gotten worse since we got him as he liked to scream whenever he heard other birds fly by which then encouraged Nana to do the same, now it’s just all the time regardless of other birds. Don’t get me wrong, when they do hear other birds they go absolutely mental. But we really don’t want to have to get rid of him. If anyone could have any advice on what we could try we would be most grateful because at the moment we are at an absolute loss and we don’t want any trouble from our quiet neighbourhood. So please, any advice would be appreciated at this point!
 

Zara

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Offering more foraging and shreddable/destructable toys can help keep birds minds occupied and reduce some of the screaming.


Here are some links you might find helpful;




 

Monica

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Do they actively play with their toys and forage?

Have you tried working with them, training through the cage bars?
 

Rhi95

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Rhiannon
Thanks for your reply!

We went out and purchased a heap of large destroyable toys for them over the weekend, as this used to keep them occupied in the past. I rearranged their cages in hopes that the change would grab their interest. But, unfortunately, they seem not even phased by the new toys, have barely even looked at them. And the screaming has just gotten worse, from about 4:30-5am onwards is nothing but screeching, screaming and a heap of other horrible noises. We are in breeding season at the moment, so that could be one of the biggest factors as to why they’ve gotten louder. But to be honest, this has been going on way before breeding season. I’ll look into the links you have shared, I appreciate your efforts, thank you.
 

Rhi95

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Hi, thanks for your reply!

And we have definitely tried doing a lot of training with them, Nana in particular is the main one who loved her training, and destroyable toys. But Ollie on the other hand, tends to show no interest in learning any sort of tricks, he is The most stubborn and refuses to learn to step up because as soon as we get close to him he freaks out. He will happily take treats from our hands but that’s about it, anything else and he’s screaming and flying all over the place. Ollie tends to show no interest in his toys, never has, on the odd occasion he will give them a little knock or jab but then loses interest quickly. Nana used to love her new toys and anything she could wrap her beak around, but now it seems nothing keeps her interest. She would much rather sit there screaming and screeching at the top of her lungs instead. We try to ignore this behaviour until she’s quite and reward her with her favourite treat, this works for about 5 minutes until she decides to get straight back into screaming. I think she likes to hear her own voice.

And Ollie is just far to interested in Nana to really do anything with, we’ve even tried separately them completely, having them both in seperate rooms while we have them out one at a time to try do some training. But all he does is try find her, try escaping his cage to get to her, screaming for her, all he wants is her but she definitely doesn’t want him. She will attempt to attack him or hunt him as soon as they’re out together. Nana used to be very good, getting her out was always a lot of fun, she would love just being on your shoulder seeing what you were doing, but now she screams in your face/ears, tries biting your ears, fingers etc she just became a bit of a nightmare to be around outside the cage, it’s gotten to the point we no longer get either of them out because its just not enjoyable or fun for any party. All I can think is, has Ollies sour attitude rubbed off on her
 

Wardy

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Do you try and interact with the toys with them ? i have had some success encouraging my birds to use a toy by playing with it with them as best i can
 

Rhi95

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We used to do that with Nana, to keep her attention on her toy, but haven’t yet tried that with Ollie. We can give it a go, he’s just far to skittish to try and get close to him. We’ve had him for just over a year now and he’s still not comfortable being near our hands/arms etc unless we have a treat for him, then he hesitantly grabs it from our fingers. But we can try that, see if maybe us playing with it will get the same reaction as playing with a little kids toy ‘I want what you have’. Maybe it will spark interest
 

Monica

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The most stubborn and refuses to learn to step up because as soon as we get close to him he freaks out.
I see "we".... I think THIS is the key phrasing. It's not "him", it's YOU!

To be clear, it is YOU approaching him. Not the other way around.

Instead of going up to him, have him come to YOU! Allow it to be on HIS terms.

Work with what HE'S willing to give, rather than NOT give. Build on that until he IS more comfortable!


He will happily take treats from our hands but that’s about it, anything else and he’s screaming and flying all over the place.
That's PERFECTLY acceptable! Just get him used to taking treats and spending time around you without really asking too much of him. Just a little here or there to push his boundaries. You can have one hand flat on a surface and the other hand with treats. Just get him used to walking near your hand that's flat without actually having him touch your hand. Over time as his confidence builds, you can ask more and more of him.


Ollie tends to show no interest in his toys, never has, on the odd occasion he will give them a little knock or jab but then loses interest quickly.
Have you ever put his favorite treats in and around his toys so he has to 'hunt' for them?


Nana used to love her new toys and anything she could wrap her beak around, but now it seems nothing keeps her interest.
Same goes for Nana - have you tried placing her favorite treats in and on her toys?


She would much rather sit there screaming and screeching at the top of her lungs instead. We try to ignore this behaviour until she’s quite and reward her with her favourite treat, this works for about 5 minutes until she decides to get straight back into screaming.
This has, unfortunately, one potential negative side effect. If you wait a bird out until they're quiet, you could be teaching them to scream for longer and longer periods of time.

Are they eating a healthy, varied diet with fresh foods and sprouts?

Can you increase the amount of foraging time they have so they spend less time quickly eating and MORE time searching for food?

Have you done much target training with either?


But all he does is try find her, try escaping his cage to get to her, screaming for her, all he wants is her but she definitely doesn’t want him.
Have you tried working with Nana and having Ollie watch? Sometimes, monkey see, monkey do. If working with Nana directly in front of Ollie peaks his interest, it might be easier to work with him in turn - eventually.
 

Rhi95

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@Monica thanks for your replies!
You have made some very great points, when it comes to Ollie we’ve definitely been working around his anxiety and taking our time with him as we don’t want to traumatise nor scare him. When we had him out of cage and even in the cage we started out small with him working our way closer to him depending on how comfortable he was, if he would take steps away from us, we would do the same and back away till he was comfortable and relaxed again.

At first we were feeding him treats with a stick until he got comfortable taking it from there, then slowly we introduced our hands to him. He doesn’t seem to have to much of a problem with taking treats by hand now but we don’t push it if he doesn’t want it. When we had both of them out of cage (back when they were civil) we left him to do his own thing and didn’t expect to much of him. We did think perhaps if we trained with Nana he might be more inclined to have a go. He showed interest but only from a distance, never wanting to take the leap forward and join in. But we respect that, these things do take time and we don’t know how he’s been handled in the past. The best we can do is be patient and hopefully one day he may be inclined to get closer to us when he feels he can trust us.

You’re point with putting the treats around the toys and cage is a great idea, we’ve only ever done that a few times with Nana in the past but will definitely give it another go with the both of them!

As for their diet, they tend to get fresh produce most days, fruit/vege pellets and small amounts of seed/nuts. Will have to look into getting some packets of growing sprouts so they can forage for that and also look into getting some more foraging toys to try keep them occupied when we’re not around.

I completely agree with you about ignoring them when their loud, it’s so hard to find what the best option is and that seems to be the only advice I find online. Would you have any recommendations as to what we should do instead of ignoring till they’re quiet? At this point I’m willing to give absolutely anything a go in hopes of correcting this behaviour.

And as for target training, we started doing it with Nana but haven’t yet been able to work with Ollie, and since they both don’t seem to get along when out or they’re to busy trying to find eachother when they’re not together, does make it a bit hard to work with them and keep their attention on us. But alas, we will keep trying with them. We are going to be building a green house for them outside where we can go in and sit with them, and have them out of cage one at a time. Perhaps filling it with toys, baths and bird friendly plants might make Ollie in particular more comfortable, Atleast we can sit in there and wait until he decides to approach us. And if they do want to be a little bit loud when they hear other birds it might not annoy the neighbours or us as much.

But I would love to hear what you recommend for the screaming, instead of ignoring them because I really do hate having to do that and I’m happy to give any other option a go. Thank you so much for your replies, I will be working harder on each of these points you’ve made.
 

Monica

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In all honesty, it sounds like you've done great with both of them!

It is possible though that having Ollie around is causing more stress to Nana.



In regards to screaming, or rather, any undesired behavior, it's better to try to prevent the behavior than allow it to occur... and screaming can be difficult! Can they... forage for food first thing in the morning before anything else? Could they... take a bath? Maybe they need some extra sleep? Perhaps some safe plants or branches placed inside their cages could provide some entertainment? Does the screaming change at all if the blinds or open or closed? What about white noise? Such as the sound of a stream/creak?



In regards to training... you are thinking "outside the box"... instead, think "inside the box"! ;) Don't take them out of their cage to train them! Instead, work on it while IN their cage! Teach them to move towards a target on the outside of the cage (you can put it through the cage bars!) and give a reward looking at, moving towards or even touching the target! There is absolutely no reason that they MUST come out of their cages in order to train them! Start from within the cage and work your way out!



If Ollie really is scared, I would give him hiding opportunities. Not necessarily something "nest" like... but rather, big toys that he can hide behind should he feel the need to... or perhaps a seagrass mat. I feel that having the option to move away and hide, if they feel it's necessary, is beneficial to gaining their trust.
 
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