• Welcome to Avian Avenue! To view our forum with less advertisments please register with us.
    Memberships are free and it will just take a moment. Click here

Issues with rescued linnie

clarajane

Moving in
Joined
4/28/20
Messages
6
Real Name
Clara
To establish some background, my boyfriend and I share a 350sf studio and rescued an approximately one-year-old cobalt linnie in March of 2019. We rescued him from a young woman who had to move for college and couldn't keep him. He spent the first year of his life confined to a small cage in a dark room owned by the girl's boyfriend. The girl would visit him about once a day, let him out to fly briefly, give him love, etc. His name was Bear, but he's turned into Eert (pronounced ee-yurt, after the sound he constantly makes).

We were caught off guard when we first got Eert because he was very loud, doing his contact call over and over and would bite and growl at us sort of. He'd dive-bomb my boyfriend's head, bite him and generally established that he didn't like him. Fortunately for me, he ended up becoming attached to me. He'll contact call if I'm not in his sight, even if I say, "Eert!" he'll quiet down for a second but continue until I approach him, then lower his voice to very quiet little "eerts," it's so adorable how his tone changes to a loving tone when I approach him. He's almost always on my shoulder, head or by my side and he's become my best friend in the past year. He is only ever caged at night to sleep, or if we're both at work and the birds are home alone, otherwise our birds have free reign and generally like to be around us. Eert is still not a fan of my boyfriend, but he tolerates him if I'm at work. I get kisses from Eert multiple times a day while my boyfriend only gets Eert kisses if he's in the right mood :D

I fell so in love with Eert that we ended up rescuing another male linnie, Webu (again named after the sound he makes), in August of 2019. Sadly, the owners of Webu didn't tell us how long they'd had him, didn't even have a name for him, and he actually grew up with a cobalt brother, but the owners sold the brother first before selling us Webu. I've read online that it can be devastating to split up birds like this. Webu instantly became attached to Eert and will not leave Eert's side. Eert is much more attached to me and couldn't care less about Webu. He'll let Webu preen him sometimes, but as soon as Webu lowers his head to get his turn, Eert bites and yells at him to leave him alone (my little brat!) Eert doesn't understand the dynamics of a bird relationship.. So the problem is, Webu is extremely aggressive toward my boyfriend and I everyday. This hasn't changed but has been constant since the day we got him. We initially had a lot of hope after seeing Eert's transformation from a neglected brat to a total sweetheart after a couple of months of daily affection, but it's been eight months since we rescued Webu and he's only getting worse. I took both birds to a local avian vet last month to get them DNA sexed as well as a general wellness check and both birds are very healthy males! I was concerned that maybe Webu was a female because he's been extra aggressive & destructive in these spring months. We let both birds burrow in a designated blanket at the foot of our bed every night before carrying each to bed in their cage once they've fallen asleep (spoiled!) but Webu will seek out our legs or feet and bite us VERY hard until we bleed. I didn't know a linnie was capable of this. Even during the day, if we're sitting or lounging on the bed, Webu thinks it's his territory and will fly at us while screaming, or lurch at us with a scream before biting down on whatever skin he sees (leg, hand, arm, foot, face). He's broken skin on my face before..

We've read everything online, tried everything. We got his health checked (healthy), put him to bed earlier (helped temporarily), put him in time-outs in the cage (he just contact-calls and paces the whole cage until I place Eert in the cage with him, then calms down, but then Eert contact calls for me because he hates being caged), we don't verbally respond when he bites us, we handle him carefully, we move slowly around him, we tried to get him less hand-shy by feeding him apple, etc. (which Webu is WAY better at stepping up/being perched on a finger than Eert is!) Lately, he's been burrowing/chewing on a fabric box that we have tucked away into a shelf and if we walk by when he comes out, he'll scream and attack our feet on the ground! He's ruthless, will bite and NOT let go until we pull him off. Eert thinks nothing of this and is usually just startled by Webu's screams. Eert is constantly interacting with us as humans, mimicking us, following us, etc. but Webu has never interacted with us. He stares at us blankly with fear in his eyes and goes silent if we talk to him or make sounds for him to mimic. Recently, I've noticed that in the mornings or when I get home from work, Webu will join Eert in greeting me by simply following Eert when he approaches my face while perched on top of their cage to give me kisses while Webu stares silently. Webu has also started requesting that I share my water with him if I have a glass of water nearby. He'll tap on the glass until I tilt it for him to take a sip and I talk to him sweetly the whole time. This is the most progress in 8 months. Otherwise, the biting has not let up. Webu also loves going into the shower and will stay perched on our fingers while tilting his head into the water, but still contact-calls for Eert (who HATES water). I know there's a sweet bird deep down inside Webu. I just don't know how to stop the attacks or bites. I want to confine him to their cage for some time so that he knows that's his territory (it's a huge free-standing cage with plenty of toys and in front of a bright window), but then he'd contact-call for Eert who hates being caged and would just pace and call for me. It's a double-edged sword. I truly feel like this bird was abused in his past home and scarred from being separated from his brother. I've tried to contact the people who sold him to us to find the people who bought his brother, but without success.. What do I do about his aggression?

TL;DR I have a very aggressive rescue linnie who hasn't improved in 8 months after trying everything.
 

Dona

Rollerblading along the road
Celebirdy of the Month
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
3/13/18
Messages
3,494
Location
Maryland
I answered you on another post about Gigi's chortles. Here are a couple more comments.

I think you could reconsider using the burrowing blanket and the fabric box. It always goes badly for me and Gigi. When Gigi found a little hidey hole under the sofa arm cover, she tried to bite me on the regular when I got too close. Clearly it seems like a potential nest site.

Gigi is hand shy for the most part. It doesn't happen for all Linnies, but it's common. You could see what happens if you try keeping your hands to yourself for a while.

I don't have experience with a Linnie pair, but have heard that it can be very loud if you separate them.
 

NorthernGannet

Sprinting down the street
Joined
6/1/19
Messages
301
Location
Missouri
I wish I had any advice at all here, but I don't, other than what Dona suggested about ceasing the allowance of burrowing and hiding. It definitely brings out the protective hormonal behavior. I also have a young rescued male, ex-breeder, who lost his mate before coming to me. He was an emotional mess. After 5 months here were are still working hard on things, and he still tries to convince my other two males to like him. They are still not buying into it.

As for Webu, have you tried doing basic things like feeding him single-bite treats/seeds from your fingers? Just quick little "hi, how ya doin'?" surprises as you come and go. Mine was/is not nearly as aggressive as Webu sounds, but that's what I did with him to help bring him around and see me as potentially interesting. Lots of little random treats when he wasn't expecting them, lots of 'good boy' type comments out of the blue. I love that Webu tells you he wants your water! I think that is huge.

Oh, one other thing I did a little bit of was target training... just teaching him to touch a target (anything that he's not scared of- i actually used a q-tip to start!) with his beak when you say 'touch'. Mostly this is associated with using a clicker for training, but I can't use a clicker because the dog was trained to it and goes crazy! So, I just got really excited with my "good boy" praise, followed by a hemp seed for treat, and that seemed to be enough for him. More than anything it's just another way to interact and try to build a bond with the bird.

-NG
 

MnGuy

Jogging around the block
Avenue Veteran
Joined
4/24/17
Messages
781
It sounds like he's jealous of your relationship with Eert. He wants to be Eert's best friend and you two are getting in the way. I wouldn't necessarily attribute his behavior to past abuse. Chances are in his previous home the two birds were left to their own devices/relationship, and the human interaction was limited or secondary.

I think clicker training is a great idea. Get him used to touching his beak softly to other items for a reward, and to moving from one perch to another for a treat. Once he truly understands that, replace the items and perches with your finger.

I think building positive associations with your presence is also key. Give him his favorite treats or toys when you're around. Every time Eert is paying attention to you, give Webu something he loves to eat or play with. Start with short sessions and build them over time. I wouldn't spend 10 minutes with Eert the first time. Do just a second at a time and extend that over more training sessions.

I know parrots are not dogs, but I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos of dog trainer Victoria Stilwell's show, "It's Me or the Dog," and she does a great job of repairing relationships between dogs or dogs and people with that type of positive association. (I have two dogs as well; they get along fine.) I think the same principle could be applied to parrots. One important thing I learned from her that sounds so simple is to make one-on-one time for each animal instead of always treating them as a unit.

Good luck.
 

clarajane

Moving in
Joined
4/28/20
Messages
6
Real Name
Clara
I answered you on another post about Gigi's chortles. Here are a couple more comments.

I think you could reconsider using the burrowing blanket and the fabric box. It always goes badly for me and Gigi. When Gigi found a little hidey hole under the sofa arm cover, she tried to bite me on the regular when I got too close. Clearly it seems like a potential nest site.

Gigi is hand shy for the most part. It doesn't happen for all Linnies, but it's common. You could see what happens if you try keeping your hands to yourself for a while.

I don't have experience with a Linnie pair, but have heard that it can be very loud if you separate them.
Thank you for your response! We definitely try to discourage them going near the fabric boxes and push them into the shelves deep enough so that the birds can't go inside of them. It's confusing about the blankets though because burrowing is Eert's favorite past time and both do it every night, separately, to fall asleep before we carry them to bed one by one. Eert likes to play peek-a-boo from under the blanket and we like to make silly noises at each other through the blanket. I think Webu is much more hormonal because of his aggression in general, especially with the blankets. Both are very hand shy, but Webu is much more willing to step up onto our fingers with an apple in our other hand, which we praise with happy voices every time.
 

clarajane

Moving in
Joined
4/28/20
Messages
6
Real Name
Clara
I wish I had any advice at all here, but I don't, other than what Dona suggested about ceasing the allowance of burrowing and hiding. It definitely brings out the protective hormonal behavior. I also have a young rescued male, ex-breeder, who lost his mate before coming to me. He was an emotional mess. After 5 months here were are still working hard on things, and he still tries to convince my other two males to like him. They are still not buying into it.

As for Webu, have you tried doing basic things like feeding him single-bite treats/seeds from your fingers? Just quick little "hi, how ya doin'?" surprises as you come and go. Mine was/is not nearly as aggressive as Webu sounds, but that's what I did with him to help bring him around and see me as potentially interesting. Lots of little random treats when he wasn't expecting them, lots of 'good boy' type comments out of the blue. I love that Webu tells you he wants your water! I think that is huge.

Oh, one other thing I did a little bit of was target training... just teaching him to touch a target (anything that he's not scared of- i actually used a q-tip to start!) with his beak when you say 'touch'. Mostly this is associated with using a clicker for training, but I can't use a clicker because the dog was trained to it and goes crazy! So, I just got really excited with my "good boy" praise, followed by a hemp seed for treat, and that seemed to be enough for him. More than anything it's just another way to interact and try to build a bond with the bird.

-NG
I can't bring myself to completely stop them from burrowing because they seem to love it so much! Neither of them have every been interested in any of the toys they have, either, so I worry about them getting too bored. I'd feel like I'd been taking away their one source of fun, you know? Your poor little guy!! Yes! That's exactly what Webu does, try to get Eert to like him. I think Webu wants Eert to make kiss noises at him when he's making them at me, that's why he rushes to join in on greeting me when I get home. They do hang out side by side regularly and will make kiss noises with each other, which I think is more mating behavior than friendly..

We have fed Webu single things with our fingers and he's actually great with it. Sometimes, he'll get confused and lightly bite our nails or fingertips, but we just redirect him to the treat without pulling away or yelling. However, if he's in a mood, he'll bypass the tree and clamp down on our fingers immediately.. He knows to get under the nail to make it hurt the most, I swear! I try to talk to Webu in a sweet voice as often as I talk to Eert lovingly. The water thing has definitely given us hope!! We sometimes think Webu might be smarter than Eert.. Eert can be a doofus sometimes.

That's hilarious that your dog would go crazy if you used a clicker. That's a new idea, though! I will tell my boyfriend and we'll give it a try. Maybe it will help Webu recognize us as part of his flock, and not some scary huge aliens (how I feel like he sees us).
 

clarajane

Moving in
Joined
4/28/20
Messages
6
Real Name
Clara
It sounds like he's jealous of your relationship with Eert. He wants to be Eert's best friend and you two are getting in the way. I wouldn't necessarily attribute his behavior to past abuse. Chances are in his previous home the two birds were left to their own devices/relationship, and the human interaction was limited or secondary.

I think clicker training is a great idea. Get him used to touching his beak softly to other items for a reward, and to moving from one perch to another for a treat. Once he truly understands that, replace the items and perches with your finger.

I think building positive associations with your presence is also key. Give him his favorite treats or toys when you're around. Every time Eert is paying attention to you, give Webu something he loves to eat or play with. Start with short sessions and build them over time. I wouldn't spend 10 minutes with Eert the first time. Do just a second at a time and extend that over more training sessions.

I know parrots are not dogs, but I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos of dog trainer Victoria Stilwell's show, "It's Me or the Dog," and she does a great job of repairing relationships between dogs or dogs and people with that type of positive association. (I have two dogs as well; they get along fine.) I think the same principle could be applied to parrots. One important thing I learned from her that sounds so simple is to make one-on-one time for each animal instead of always treating them as a unit.

Good luck.
You know, I've considered maybe Webu is jealous of my relationship with Eert, but he stays SO calm when he approaches me while Eert gives me kisses. I feel like he'd be the most aggressive then, when Eert is giving me attention, if he were jealous. I definitely agree he grew up with way more bird interactions than human, sadly.

We do want to try the clicker training! I want to try more single treats from our fingers as well when he's hanging out with both Eert and I.

That's a different idea! More one on one time with each bird, I will definitely consider this! I love all animals, but dogs hold a special place in my heart too. I've bonded with many 'troubled,' dogs very quickly, just wish I had that same touch with birds!
 

Tazlima

Sprinting down the street
Joined
3/7/19
Messages
580
Just seconding that clicker training is a wonderful way to repair relationships. It's a wholly positive experience, improves communication, provides the birds a different way to interact with you, and with multiple birds, they learn by watching each other. I have three birds, and I train them all simultaneously (although they don't always work on the same things... they're all at very different levels of socialization and flight skills). I alternate between them. Have one do a trick and then work with the other while the first one is eating their treat. If one refuses to participate, I just move on to the next, and generally by the time their turn rolls around again, they recognize they missed out and are more interested in trying again. It can be as simple as touch the target, treat, then do the same for the other bird. Over time, it's also taught them patience to wait their turn.
 

clarajane

Moving in
Joined
4/28/20
Messages
6
Real Name
Clara
UPDATE: I’ve been trying to spend about 10-15 minutes daily with Webu one-on-one with training him to step up onto my hand with an apple. I still need to do more research on how to conduct clicker training.

Not much progress but this afternoon, he requested water from my glass like usual but while he was drinking, he kept rubbing his chin in the water so I poured the water into a shallow container and tilted it toward both birds who were on the counter and both fluffed up like my sister’s green cheek conure does when she takes a bath on her own! Both birds HATE when we manually give them baths so this was huge! It was adorable seeing their natural instinct to fluff up and roll around in the water, dipping their wings and heads in. They both groomed themselves happily afterward and now Webu is the calmest and happiest we’ve ever seen him. He’s perched on our laundry hamper making various kiss noises/whistles while closing his eyes slowly. I think maybe the poor guy has been so irritable because he just wanted to bathe himself!! It’s amazing what a quick bath/shower can do
 

Tazlima

Sprinting down the street
Joined
3/7/19
Messages
580
UPDATE: I’ve been trying to spend about 10-15 minutes daily with Webu one-on-one with training him to step up onto my hand with an apple. I still need to do more research on how to conduct clicker training.

Not much progress but this afternoon, he requested water from my glass like usual but while he was drinking, he kept rubbing his chin in the water so I poured the water into a shallow container and tilted it toward both birds who were on the counter and both fluffed up like my sister’s green cheek conure does when she takes a bath on her own! Both birds HATE when we manually give them baths so this was huge! It was adorable seeing their natural instinct to fluff up and roll around in the water, dipping their wings and heads in. They both groomed themselves happily afterward and now Webu is the calmest and happiest we’ve ever seen him. He’s perched on our laundry hamper making various kiss noises/whistles while closing his eyes slowly. I think maybe the poor guy has been so irritable because he just wanted to bathe himself!! It’s amazing what a quick bath/shower can do
That's wonderful! Keep up the good work!
 

Leih

Rollerblading along the road
Celebirdy of the Month
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
10/1/18
Messages
2,899
Location
Ohio
Real Name
Leih Pearson
As for toys, most linnies seem to like soft woods, I know @Dona's Gigi loves sola. My two boys like sola and thin slices of balsa. They are not chewers like my other birds, but they do enjoy a bit. They also like to chew up seagrass mats. I don't have any advice and you've gotten lots of good ideas anyway but I definitely also encourage clicker training. I use a chop stick and just touch the beak, click, treat. Did you mention about how much dark time your birds are getting? I increase at this time of year because they naturally get hormonal in spring and I try to trick them into not knowing it's spring. My linnies are on 12 hours dark, but I don't have any issues with them. My boys are pigs so I have been increasing foraging for all of my birds, it's just all around good for them.
 
Top