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Nimily

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We have had our Congo African Grey Henry for a few years now. He is 15 years old.

Last year around this time, he started chewing his feathers for the first time. Just around his crop, and it didn't get bad until January when we thought he was dying and rushed him to the vet because he had chewed so many off. At the time, I didn't realize that that's what had been happening, and I thought maybe he had some weird disease. Turns out, he was in perfect health. After a couple of months, it stopped and his feathers all grew back. Everything was fine.

Well here we are in November again, and the bird has lost his fool mind. He's starting with the chewing again, though not too bad. But I don't remember his behavior being this insane last year. He does this thing when he's throwing a fit where he leans forward and flaps his wings. I call it "Pretty Winging". He'll do it when he's hungry for dinner or when I'm cooking something and he wants it. After a while, he usually flies to one of us (my husband or me) and all is well. But lately, he's doing it all the time. It's like a never ending fit being thrown. We have bought him almonds to snack on and new toys and ropes to chew. He's still sitting there throwing a fit all day long. Usually it's worse in the evening the last couple of hours before bed time. He likes to do this thing where he "angry chews" on one of his toys. During the rest of the year, it's peaceful chewing and gentle. Well lately it's like super insane ANGRY chewing where it's almost like he's being aggressive towards the poor toy. It's odd.

I noticed some blatantly hormonal behavior as well, where he tries to regurgitate when I'm hand feeding him, and he seems to always want to be on my husband's chest (in his snuggle spot). Throughout the year he will do the regurgitate thing once in a great while, but lately it's been increasing.

Edit to add: One other odd thing this year... He's climbing to the floor, where he is not allowed to be. He's never done this before, and we can't seem to keep him off it. Why would he be doing that? It's very strange.

Is all of this behavior just hormonal? It's odd that after 4 years, it's only now getting really bad. Our lesser sulfur crested cockatoo has been a little bit whinier than normal lately, but she isn't acting nearly as insane as Henry has (she is 11). His bad behavior has been bad for a few weeks, but it seemed to spike right after the daylight savings time change drastically.

I've been giving him a little bit of extra sleep lately. Mostly just because he's too big of an pain after 7pm to keep up any later. Is that extra sleep ok? That puts him at about 13 hours a night, rather than his usual 12 hours.

Please tell me that this will pass.
I love him so much, but he is literally making me insane. Is there anything I can do to make him more tolerable? Is there anything else it might be? I hope I'm not the only one, and maybe it's just something going around. I also always really worry when he feather chews because I'm afraid it will become a permanent habit. last year he was completely naked on his chest. I was so glad when that finally stopped and he grew his feathers back.
 
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DQTimnehs

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This all sounds like normal bird behaviour. Well, he shouldn't be chewing his feathers but it's not uncommon, especially with greys. The leaning and flapping is just begging, either for food, attention or something else.
He doesn't sound at all insane. Just an intelligent bird looking for attention and new things to do. You could give him some foraging and puzzle toys to keep him busy.
Is it really a big deal if he gets on the floor? Sometimes they just need to explore.
 

JLcribber

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Yup. Nothing abnormal.

He's evolving/growing. Dynamics change.
 

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Please tell me that this will pass.
I love him so much, but he is literally making me insane. Is there anything I can do to make him more tolerable?

Yes it will pass.

You can increase the size of his world (secure birdroom or indoor aviary) that includes some floor space. He needs a bigger world and that is the way to give it to him without increasing your workload.
 

Nimily

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Hmm. It's just odd that it would happen after being alive for 15 years. He is never in his cage, and has the entire house at his disposal with perches everywhere. I work from home and I'm with him all day long except for when he's sleeping. So he gets an absolute ton of attention.

Unfortunately, yes, it's a huge deal if he's on the floor. We have dogs and cats, and although they don't show signs of aggression, I don't trust them enough to let him walk around on the floor. I also have a good friend who accidentally stepped on her bird and killed it, so I'd rather not take the risk. Honestly even the idea scares the heck out of me.

I'll keep trying I guess. Henry is not a big toy fan. His previous owners gave us over $1000 worth of toys when we adopted him, all of which had been untouched. He has no interest in foraging beyond almonds, even after trying tons of new toys over the years. The original toys that we got ended up getting enjoyed by our cockatoo when Henry showed no interest in them. The only things he's interested in chewing are his rope perches, these little straw hats, and almonds.

We do plan on buying a new house in a couple of months so I'll see if we can make him some sort of aviary at that time. I don't know that it would be any better than the entire house, but maybe he just needs a place that's just his? He really likes to be around us, so I don't think he'd be happy alone in a room. Maybe if he's with our cockatoo he'll be happier?

I really hope this is just hormones.

Thank you everyone who has responded so far, I appreciate it.
 
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Jaguar

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With an animal that lives 50+ years, a few is just about long enough to settle into the routine and start displaying new behaviors.

Since he isn't being engaged with toys or foraging, and isn't being allowed to explore, what else has he really got to do? Add the fact that he's constantly surrounded by a "mate" that isn't responding to his advances... it's terribly frustrating. You need to find a way to redirect his energy into more productive things... good luck!
 

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Its not so much being 15 years old (which is still just a teenager). When you guys got him, that was the start of a new life. Undoubtedly a better life. So it's only been a few years (you didn't say how many?). For a big smart parrot like that that has history, a few years is a reasonable period of time to become completely comfortable and "at home".

A confident secure parrot is going try and manipulate its world to the way it wants and push boundaries.

No worries. You've only for about 40 years to go. :lol:
 

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Well, he likes to chew some things so you can incorporate those into new toys. Start with very easy wood. Even my non-chewers would chew up a yucca bird kebab. This is the one toy they all will chew. Then you can try balsa. Still pretty easy along with cardboard, paper, vine, sea grass. If he likes to chew paper towel you can tie one on to a new toy to make it seem familiar. They will progress to harder woods but I wouldn't start with pine for a non-chewer. You can also play with the toy yourself pretending to have lots of fun with it and make him want it.
You may want to lock the dogs and cats in another part of the house for everyone's sake when the bird is out, especially on the floor. You do learn to watch where you walk with a bird on the floor. I have a non-flyer so she waddles around on the floor.
Birds can be stubborn. I have one that owns most of the kitchen. I tried to only let him on one part of the counter but he would constantly fly to the other side. I would put him back on his side over and over. I gave up. Now I have about a foot of counter space to work with. :rolleyes:
 

Nimily

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It's been just over 4 years since we first got him, but his old home was wonderful (they had a lot more money than us... we were poor college kids 4 years ago). His owners were getting older and needed to find someone who would give Henry a good life. We actually met them through these forums, and after several months of getting to know each other, they flew out here with Henry and helped him get settled in. We still keep in touch with them, but I don't want to worry them so I thought I'd ask on here first.

Henry has always been content to literally just sit on his perch near us all day long and chill. As long as he can see us, he's content (this is how he was in his old home as well and he's never shown a desire to explore in either home, though if he wants to go into the other room I'll take him). He's been such a docile and peaceful bird most of the time, and rarely vocalizes except to whistle and sing opera flamboyantly. That's why this new and very obnoxious behavior is so alarming... it's not like him at all.

It sounds like I need to try some more chew /shreddable toys and see if that helps things. He is constantly itchy and has a lot of blood feathers popping up right now (so does our cockatoo) but he doesn't let us get them for him unless he's on our chest in his cuddle spot. That's the only time he tolerates being touched. I wish he and my cockatoo liked each other so they could help each other out. They are in the same room most of the day (when I am present), but they don't have any interest in each other and get puffy if they get too close to each other. I keep hoping they will become friends eventually.

He does like kabobs, so I'll definitely be getting more of those. I'll try the balsa wood too... that's a great idea. Thanks so much for the suggestions!
 

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And you can always make him work for the almonds. Wrap them in unbleached coffee filters and stuff in a bowl. Let him watch you do it.
 

DQTimnehs

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More showers will help with the pin feathers and itchiness.

A stuffed bird will sit docilely and not do anything outrageous. We have real birds because they have personalities and are constantly doing things that are funny, endearing and entertaining! How would you like your friend/spouse to sit and do nothing and say nothing different every day? Pretty boring! Don't expect him to be a perch potato. He is finally feeling comfortable enough to explore and look for new things to do! This is a GOOD thing! It can be frustrating when they go where we don't really want them to but just bird proof the area and go with it!
 

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A confident secure parrot is going try and manipulate its world to the way it wants and push boundaries.
It took Milton, our U2, two years to become comfortable with us. Like your Henry, we were Milty's second owner. I believe Milty was mourning his first person, and was very confused about his new home. We gave him the freedom to interact with us, many toys,etc, but he really seemed like a lost soul here.
About three years ago, Milt began to come out of his shell, so to speak. He began to explore his world, became more vocal and happy. The most surprising thing to me was the explosion of vocabulary, and Milt's use of words in context.

Henry is growing..and changing. He needs mental challenges (like foraging) and a chance to explore his world. You have to accept the challenge to keep Henry happy...with great challenges come great rewards...for you and him...;)
 

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Its not so much being 15 years old (which is still just a teenager). When you guys got him, that was the start of a new life. Undoubtedly a better life. So it's only been a few years (you didn't say how many?). For a big smart parrot like that that has history, a few years is a reasonable period of time to become completely comfortable and "at home".

A confident secure parrot is going try and manipulate its world to the way it wants and push boundaries.

No worries. You've only for about 40 years to go. :lol:
Hmmmm
@Nimily thank you for this thread.

MC has suddenly become a parrot that wants to run once he is on carpet. Not normal behavior. He charged me on the cage top a few nights ago (hubby said welcome to my world).

Maybe that's what is going on in my house?
 

Nimily

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More showers will help with the pin feathers and itchiness.

A stuffed bird will sit docilely and not do anything outrageous. We have real birds because they have personalities and are constantly doing things that are funny, endearing and entertaining! How would you like your friend/spouse to sit and do nothing and say nothing different every day? Pretty boring! Don't expect him to be a perch potato.
I get what you're saying. Believe me when I say that I didn't go into owning him expecting him to just sit on a perch all day. It's just how he has always been (according to his old owners) and how he's been with me over the past four years. He got affectionate with me within a few months of owning him, but he didn't even let my husband pick him up until last year. Now he's a daddy's boy and wants to be on my husband all the time (when he's not singing).

We have a bird room where my computer is, and the birds spend most of their day in here with me. The bird room has perches everywhere, a jungle gym of them hanging from the ceiling, and a huge assortment of toys hanging all over the place. He isn't a poor neglected bird deprived of opportunities to play if he wants to... he just has no interest in it (not to say that you implied that he is, but since you don't know me I figured I'd clear that up). I do agree that change isn't always a bad thing, it's just the extent of the change in such a short amount of time that has alarmed me. That and the feather chewing, which always scares the heck out of me. I guess I was just hoping that it is hormonal and not a whole personality shift. This personality is unpleasant... the constant non-stop fit throwing is horrific. I got to the point last week where I was in tears begging him to stop, offering toy after toy and different types of food while trying to figure out what he could possibly want. I just got back from the craft store and got some of that wood, so we will see if he wants to chew on it!
 

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Has he been to the vet? AGs are one of the species that is known for developing fatty liver and circulatory diseases. These two conditions come to mind because you indicated that he has "always" been a perch potato.

Could be extreme hormonal activity, but I'd sure have him checked out for physical issues.
 

Nimily

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Has he been to the vet? AGs are one of the species that is known for developing fatty liver and circulatory diseases. These two conditions come to mind because you indicated that he has "always" been a perch potato.

Could be extreme hormonal activity, but I'd sure have him checked out for physical issues.
Yep, we took him last year when this behavior started and they did a bunch of tests, including a blood test just to be safe. They said he was one of the healthiest birds they had ever seen. So I think we're clear as far as that goes. My cockatoo is in the same room with him most of the day and she is also a very, very chill bird. She rarely screams, isn't moody at all, and is just in general a sweet little soul. She likes toys more than Henry, and she also hasn't shown any signs of being sick or anything (thank goodness!).
 
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