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Mixed signals?

Good_birdy

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Hi everyone!

I've had my adorable yellowside green cheek conure for about 2 weeks. She's about 5 months. She warmed up to myself and my boyfriend at about the 4-5 day mark of having her.

She hesitates or refuses to step up a lot, but I usually use treats to convince her to and she complies and happily noms on the treat.

The brief overview of the day is usually me waking up around the time she does. I change out her bowls and prepare some fresh fruits/veggies for her. I can easily enter my hand in her cage to give her scritches. She started enjoying the fact that i cup my hand around her and scritch her head and neck with my fingers. Then I just leave the door open, she likely takes a bath and then goes to the top of her cage to flap herself dry.

Our couch isn't too far from her cage so sometimes she flies over to us and there she gets more love.

Trouble starts here. She has started to climb to our shoulders and nip at bf's beard or neck and when he tries to "up" her down....she bites. In fact she's been biting for no what i feel is no apparent reason. The thing is, we can't do the "earthquake" or drop method or anything because she clamps and wont let go. D:

I've been looking through the forums for nippy and bitey parrots, but to be frank, I'm starting to be afraid to hold her because of biting.

Also when she steps up aometimes she turns her butt to me, typically reaching in front of her grants me a nip.

Any advice is welcome please, she doesn't have enough meat to be a parrot nugget LOL


I attached a pic of the little butt
 

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expressmailtome

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Greencheek Lee

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I can tell you what I do, but keep in mind you will get bit. Basically put her on the floor for a few seconds...no screaming, lecturing or fuss, just pick her up - getting bit - put her down for a few seconds then a step up to start over. It will not happen overnight. It could take weeks but you must be consistent, keep your energy calm (if you must leave the room and calm down do it). I know it hurts, but she's not doing it to be mean. Good luck
 

Monica

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Your boyfriend doesn't want her messing with his beard and neck? Well, what do you want her to do instead? Could she be playing with a toy? Or foraging?

The only bite that can't be rewarded is the one that never occurs. You need to learn to read her body language and learn to work with her, instead of against her. Start target training her. If you can't get her to step up off of a shoulder, then teach her to climb down!

Don't ignore the bites, don't punish her for biting. Just try to avoid getting bitten in the first place. If you do get bit, get her off you as gently as possibly, then try and figure out how you can avoid getting bit in the future.

By allowing a behavior to occur, you are, in a round-a-bout way, reinforcing that behavior. It doesn't matter if you ignore the behavior, or punish the bird for doing it, the simple act of that behavior occuring is being reinforced by something, and it could even be self-rewarding.



The best way to stop a behavior is to try to prevent it from occuring in the first place, and redirecting the behavior if you see it happening. Bird bites when you stick your finger in front of the bird? Stop sticking your finger in front of the bird! Instead of biting flesh, could she be playing with a toy, instead?


It's better to teach her to walk to you and then on you for a reward than it is to punish her for undesired behavior. Ignoring and punishing undesired behavior doesn't teach a bird what *TO* do, only what *NOT* to do. Give her direction by teaching her in terms that she can understand! :)
 

Good_birdy

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Your boyfriend doesn't want her messing with his beard and neck? Well, what do you want her to do instead? Could she be playing with a toy? Or foraging?

The only bite that can't be rewarded is the one that never occurs. You need to learn to read her body language and learn to work with her, instead of against her. Start target training her. If you can't get her to step up off of a shoulder, then teach her to climb down!

Don't ignore the bites, don't punish her for biting. Just try to avoid getting bitten in the first place. If you do get bit, get her off you as gently as possibly, then try and figure out how you can avoid getting bit in the future.

By allowing a behavior to occur, you are, in a round-a-bout way, reinforcing that behavior. It doesn't matter if you ignore the behavior, or punish the bird for doing it, the simple act of that behavior occuring is being reinforced by something, and it could even be self-rewarding.



The best way to stop a behavior is to try to prevent it from occuring in the first place, and redirecting the behavior if you see it happening. Bird bites when you stick your finger in front of the bird? Stop sticking your finger in front of the bird! Instead of biting flesh, could she be playing with a toy, instead?


It's better to teach her to walk to you and then on you for a reward than it is to punish her for undesired behavior. Ignoring and punishing undesired behavior doesn't teach a bird what *TO* do, only what *NOT* to do. Give her direction by teaching her in terms that she can understand! :)

Thank you for the reply! Thing is we open the cage and she flies straight to his shoulder, straight for the beard without fail. Or his ear, its painful for him, so I try to coax her down with treats...but what if thats just reinforcing her behavior?

Ive made a few foraging toys for her and she lovvvvves playing with her plastic bell. But if its between the toys vs bf's shoulder/beard/ear...she'll go chew on him. Its pretty demoralizing to be honest.

I've started taking step up training a bit slower, i hold a treat over my finger and say "up" as she does, praise her, then i set her down and start again. But more often than not she flies away. Or wanders around, licks me then and bites me somewhere.

And now for some odd reason she's ducking out from scritches??? :(
 

Monica

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Thing is we open the cage and she flies straight to his shoulder, straight for the beard without fail. Or his ear, its painful for him, so I try to coax her down with treats...but what if thats just reinforcing her behavior?
If she just sits there and you feed her treats, then that's reinforcing her being there.

But if you teach her to walk down his arm for a treat, you are reinforcing her walking down his arm.

Ive made a few foraging toys for her and she lovvvvves playing with her plastic bell. But if its between the toys vs bf's shoulder/beard/ear...she'll go chew on him. Its pretty demoralizing to be honest.
If she's playing with toys, reward her. This is behavior that you want to continue, and if she's being rewarded for it, she may do it more often.

You and your boyfriend can also work on clicker training her.

I've started taking step up training a bit slower, i hold a treat over my finger and say "up" as she does, praise her, then i set her down and start again. But more often than not she flies away. Or wanders around, licks me then and bites me somewhere.
Maybe you need to go back several more steps.

Instead of rewarding her *ONLY* when she steps up, reward her for looking at you, reward her for moving her head toward you, reward her for taking a step towards you, reward her for taking several steps towards you, reward her for taking more steps towards you, reward her for placing a nail or a toe on you, reward her for placing a foot on you. If she places both feet? *JACKPOT REWARD* Give her more goodies! :D

And now for some odd reason she's ducking out from scritches???
Might help to ask if she wants scritches and either wriggle your finger or rub your thumb and index together. If she's not interested, that's ok. Ask again later. :)
 

Jobot

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Excellent advice, as always, Monica.

With my bird, he's a defensive biter. He has reduced his biting quite a bit since I got him. When I approach him, it's always slowly and calmly. I ask to give him scritches the way monica described. But when he bites me defensively, I try to react as little as possible and not give him any sort of reward. As far as shoulders go, those are a privilege. He doesn't get to bite me or do any undesirable behavior up there. He gets removed immediately. Sometimes sitting down on a couch slowly, so you don't squish them, can help limit how far he has to run, and make it so I can wrangle him.

But trust is first. target training and clicker training help a ton in building trust and understanding. You'll get it eventually. Just keep trying, and keep it low pressure.
 

greys4u

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One other piece of advice, parrots pick up on our emotions, never show negative emotions in front of her
 

Good_birdy

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Excellent advice, as always, Monica.

With my bird, he's a defensive biter. He has reduced his biting quite a bit since I got him. When I approach him, it's always slowly and calmly. I ask to give him scritches the way monica described. But when he bites me defensively, I try to react as little as possible and not give him any sort of reward. As far as shoulders go, those are a privilege. He doesn't get to bite me or do any undesirable behavior up there. He gets removed immediately. Sometimes sitting down on a couch slowly, so you don't squish them, can help limit how far he has to run, and make it so I can wrangle him.

But trust is first. target training and clicker training help a ton in building trust and understanding. You'll get it eventually. Just keep trying, and keep it low pressure.

Thank you :)

We agree on ahoulders being a privilege, as I said though, she flies and lands there. And she decides to bite hard when we try to "up" her down. So its bribe-with-treat to get ger down.

Main issue is she clamps down and doesn't let go. So say we're by ourselves, its impossible to unclamp her and impossible to not react to getting the sensitive neck skin ripped off.

We've already made a mistake once and grabbed her by the body to get her off. She was clamped down hard, drew blood and wouldn't let go. So we resorted to pulling her off. Not a proud moment.

We'll look into clicker training :)
 

Good_birdy

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Thing is we open the cage and she flies straight to his shoulder, straight for the beard without fail. Or his ear, its painful for him, so I try to coax her down with treats...but what if thats just reinforcing her behavior?
If she just sits there and you feed her treats, then that's reinforcing her being there.

But if you teach her to walk down his arm for a treat, you are reinforcing her walking down his arm.

Ive made a few foraging toys for her and she lovvvvves playing with her plastic bell. But if its between the toys vs bf's shoulder/beard/ear...she'll go chew on him. Its pretty demoralizing to be honest.
If she's playing with toys, reward her. This is behavior that you want to continue, and if she's being rewarded for it, she may do it more often.

You and your boyfriend can also work on clicker training her.

I've started taking step up training a bit slower, i hold a treat over my finger and say "up" as she does, praise her, then i set her down and start again. But more often than not she flies away. Or wanders around, licks me then and bites me somewhere.
Maybe you need to go back several more steps.

Instead of rewarding her *ONLY* when she steps up, reward her for looking at you, reward her for moving her head toward you, reward her for taking a step towards you, reward her for taking several steps towards you, reward her for taking more steps towards you, reward her for placing a nail or a toe on you, reward her for placing a foot on you. If she places both feet? *JACKPOT REWARD* Give her more goodies! :D

And now for some odd reason she's ducking out from scritches???
Might help to ask if she wants scritches and either wriggle your finger or rub your thumb and index together. If she's not interested, that's ok. Ask again later. :)

Such a thourough response, thank you for taking the time to give advice!
 

Monica

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Another thought, if you let her out, make sure you have an abundance of small toys with you, so if she is with you, you can try and engage her in playing with the toys, too! Basically, try and keep her distracted!


Just so you don't find the wrong sites, here's a list of links to help you out in regards to training! :)

Free Training Resources | Avian Avenue Parrot Forum
 

Beth In Alaska

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I need to preface this with "I am a novice bird owner" and I do not understand bird behavior. However, i am an experience animal trainer and I believe wholeheartedly that the principles apply, even with birds having "moods" and hormone issues. Training is training. It just may be less effective with certain animals that others: reward the behavior you want to see more of, provide negative reinforcement for those you wish to see less of.

We have similar issues with our GCC - although not as extreme. I think that they like the drama of the reaction when they bite. I think they like biting, too - they are beaky animals and like using their beaks.

With Rio I have worked hard to diminish the biting and its been fairly successful although not perfectly. Today I have a nice beak mark on my forehead where she nailed me after going saiyan on my turban. In this case, I think I let her get overstimulated about the turban - she had been running around my head pecking (tapping) it. I think she may have been also biting it but I wasn't watching and I don't know for sure. So when she tapped my forehead instead of the turban she chomped as well because the texture was different or because she was already crazed running around biting the turban. Now I know she can't be on my head when wearing a towel on it (this is a new behavior for me).

Previously we had biting of my ears when preening my hair. I believe it was similar to the towel incident and i think she liked the feeling of biting my ear and the shouting and so she kept biting. It was impossible not to react during these bites. For a while, I kept her off my shoulders. I would quite literally duck and wave her off every time she came on me for a week or so. This may be similar to your husband - she was preening and then she preened too hard and the reaction was fun. So it repeated.

We also had biting when it was time to go to bed. Wearing long sleeves has stopped this behavior. We step up on my arm and not my finger. Works fine. This prompted her to begin attacking my feet at bedtime. I started wearing shoes in the room (she liked me defending myself with the broom and shouting "get back, you wretched little _______________....." , I think) and she gave up when I stopped reacting. She now clings to my shirt like a drowning bird at bedtime, flattened and glued to me so that can't put her in the cage. It would pull the heartstrings except the bird only sleeps in the cage, not like she hasn't been running around all day.

In addition to avoiding bites, which cannot be done all the time unless the bird is flightless, we worked on positive and negative reinforcement. When Rio is on me and behaving nicely - giving kisses, for example, or gently putting her beak on my cheek, I give lots of positive reinforcement "Good girl!! Good kisses!!" in a happy voice. When she bites or almost bites I say "No biting, Rio, give kisses" and then if she kisses instead she gets praise. She cares about praise more than food, else i would use food. I will always use negative reinforcement if she bites, usually using words ("no bite!") and taking her away from me which is something that she hates (actually its positive punishment but people hate that term so I don't use it). Sometimes that is just ona perch away from me and sometimes she goes into her room. She does not stay for very long because I think she quickly forgets the reason for being in there. The point is that when she does the behavior I don't want, something she doesn't like happens. When she does behavior I do like, she gets praise and kisses - all things she loves.

For the record, we have moderate success with this method - but there are days where she is just crazed and bitey. Yesterday after the towel head biting thing, when I got home she was sucking up to me because she remembered that she was in trouble for biting and she was cuddling on my shirt asking for kisses and I was being careful, knowing that these are sometimes patterns. But I thought it was safe and she was begging for kisses so I gave her my cheek to kiss and she bit instead. Hard enough to break the skin. When she is in that mood, I just try and keep her away from my face. She also had a major conure saiyan episode on my feet. This morning she was lovely, and we will see what this afternoon brings. Generally, eventually she recognizes that when she bites, she gets less attention and she stops biting.

So my instinct says : Step up to a sleeved arm. When he bites, try not to freak out (I don't always succeed) and tell him "No bite" and put him on his cage top. When he is not biting tell him he is a good birdie!!
 

Monica

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