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Need help... Baby/Young Timneh African Grey.. Bipolar???

Barnaby Rose

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Hi guys...

I have not posted in a while, (a good thing I believe!), but unfortunately, I am having to post tonight.

So last August we brought Oliver home, a tiny weeny baby Timneh grey, the sweetest little thing you have ever seen. Now we have gone through some phases no doubt, from begging for food, to screaming/squawking, to flying into walls and etc, and we have really worked with him every day and have had help and advice from the shop and trainers that work there... and for the most part, he has overcome most everything.

There is a problem though, and for the life of me I can't figure out what the problem is. For lack of a better term, I literally think he might be birdy bipolar! One minute (honestly most of the time) he is not only friendly and quiet and sweet, he is the SNUGGLIEST happiest goofiest little guy ever, pushes his head into me for scratches and rubs, loves to roll on his back in my hand and play, talking to me and whistling and etc.
Then, sometimes, BANG - he will literally strike so so so violently at my hand when I reach out to him as I do always, scream and freak out, doesn't want anything at all to do with me and has NO problem drawing blood and really seriously hurting me. This is not prompted by anything, I have tried to figure out ANYTHING it could be, and I can't. It is like he goes into these blind fits of white rage, and it is quite frankly heart breaking. I don't know what to do but leave him alone (which believe me I do), and most of the time he calms down, and I can at least go back in there and put him in his cage.
This happens with my girlfriend much less, he seems to love her much more than me, but even so he does change regardless.
Any questions I can answer please don't hesitate this is seriously becoming a very real issue that I need to resolve and I would LOVE to hear what anybody/everybody on this forum has to say.
Thank you for reading!
Barnaby
 

rocky'smom

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join the club my friend, I have cockatiel (Bebe) that I swear needs to be on bi-polar meds. sweet as sugar, then a stick of dynamite with very short fuse. all beak and talons. he is better then what he was, but I have learned to read his cues better too. my best advise is watch the body language, and the eye cues. if he 'nails' you, put him down and walk away for a couple of minutes. don't say anything, don't react to his cries for attention. come and ask if he wants to be friends again. it kinda works with baby.
 

Barnaby Rose

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join the club my friend, I have cockatiel (Bebe) that I swear needs to be on bi-polar meds. sweet as sugar, then a stick of dynamite with very short fuse. all beak and talons. he is better then what he was, but I have learned to read his cues better too. my best advise is watch the body language, and the eye cues. if he 'nails' you, put him down and walk away for a couple of minutes. don't say anything, don't react to his cries for attention. come and ask if he wants to be friends again. it kinda works with baby.
Gotcha. So if he nails me, put him down and walk away? See.... that is actually what I have been doing, (and is what I WANT to do..), however someone at the shop I got him from did warn me that in doing that I 'teach him' that if he wants to be put down and left alone, all he has to do is nail me and he gets what he wants? Like almost encouraging the behavior in a sense.... disagree..?
I wouldn't know when way or another but it really is very sad because if I didn't know better I would almost say that he is literally scared of me out of nowhere for some reason and is acting out of fear and etc not even so much anger but maybe I am wrong.
Either way thank you for taking the time to reply any and all advice is very helpful
 

rocky'smom

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no I don't disagree. but I know what works with my stick of dynamite. how about a toy to divert his attention away from biting you? something that you give only when he is out with you and at no other time. make it a fun toy, with lots to do with it. maybe a shredder with hidden treat inside like a finger trap or something similar. even a big piece of paper wadded up with Nutriberry in it would work. this treat could be sunflower seeds, a chili pepper, a piece of raw nut, or nut in the shell. it's worth a try.
 

Barnaby Rose

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Hmmmmm that's a good idea..... guess I gotta go new toy shopping!

Thank you for the advice :)
 

JLcribber

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The real solution is to not handle the bird in a way that provides the opportunity to get bit.
 

Barnaby Rose

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The real solution is to not handle the bird in a way that provides the opportunity to get bit.
Lol so...... Ever?

Don't know if you want to elaborate on that or what but the whole point is that half the time he is sweet and cuddly and half the time he wants to attack me and I don't know which it is going to be until I try to get him to step up onto my hand so if I don't give him the 'opportunity' that means what, I just never handle him again..?
 

Tyrion

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Tyrion has been doing this lately but I fear its jealously due to Ghost climbing on me and getting pets and cuddles ...So I am spending more time with Tyrion and getting bit for my efforts ..not to the point of drawing blood but harder then he has ever done in the past ....Have you noticed if he does it after you have been spending time with your SO since he seems to like her more then you ..could jealously be the issue ...some times when they get the green eyed monster in them they get bitie ..try to watch the times when he does this ..and if its around your SO then he may be jealous of you and you may have to build on your relationship :)
 

Begone

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I try to get him to step up onto my hand so if I don't give him the 'opportunity' that means what, I just never handle him again..?
Never handle him in THAT way. That is the solution. You must learn to read his body languish.
When he is happy, give him love, when he is angry give him more love, but don't handle him!
Just stay calm, perhaps leave the room and give him some time-out on his own if he attacks you.

My latest rescued girl did respond in an aggressive behavior in the beginning. But she was not aggressive, she just needed time and a lot of love.
Today, only 7 month later, she is the sweetest ever. ♥
But if I had forced her to be handled in the beginning I'm sure that it would have ended different.

he will literally strike so so so violently at my hand when I reach out to him as I do always, scream and freak out, doesn't want anything at all to do with me and has NO problem drawing blood and really seriously hurting me.
That is why I always let the birds come to me. I often hold my hand up and call them and let them fly to me instead. If they don't come, they don't want it. It's not a big deal.
To demanding a step up like you do is IMO wrong. They are smart animals, and they also need private space just like we do. Respect is so important and is often the key to everything.
Stop demanding things and start to ask instead. :)
 

JLcribber

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Lol so...... Ever?

Don't know if you want to elaborate on that or what but the whole point is that half the time he is sweet and cuddly and half the time he wants to attack me and I don't know which it is going to be until I try to get him to step up onto my hand so if I don't give him the 'opportunity' that means what, I just never handle him again..?
This means using a "tool" instead of your meat. It doesn't hurt at all if he bites a stick and there's no need for you to react.

This all boils down to familiarity and knowing your bird. That means you understand his body language and you know that at certain times or certain situations you are ripe to get bitten and you do not put your flesh in target range. He's giving off plenty of signs and even warnings. You're not reading them and adjusting accordingly.

So the choice is yours whether to get bitten or not. The bird is not going to just magically stop biting?
 

Ribbit21

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So he's about a year old right? He's a toddler. He's not bipolar. He's ready to start pushing boundaries and testing what he can get away with. He's giving you warning signs before the bite, but you aren't used to reading them. It's possible he's biting because he doesn't want to be picked up, so at that point you really don't want to give him to opportunity to bite.

It's a great time to get him used to using a step-up stick. When my grey was the same age she started biting my husband. Simple fix to that--he now moves her with a step up stick. He hasn't been bit in years. By preventing the bite in the first place you aren't giving him the chance to pick up the habit. If you use the stick and he bites the stick there's no real reward in that, so the behavior will go away eventually.
 

Barnaby Rose

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This means using a "tool" instead of your meat. It doesn't hurt at all if he bites a stick and there's no need for you to react.

This all boils down to familiarity and knowing your bird. That means you understand his body language and you know that at certain times or certain situations you are ripe to get bitten and you do not put your flesh in target range. He's giving off plenty of signs and even warnings. You're not reading them and adjusting accordingly.

So the choice is yours whether to get bitten or not. The bird is not going to just magically stop biting?
Ok. I understand. The thing is that I am trying to explain however, is that yes of course granted I am no bird behavioral expert or anything, but he really is not giving me any body language or signs or anything like that to read in the first place? Like honestly I am not an idiot, if he shuffled away from me, or puffed up or his eyes dialated or something of course I would know something was up and I wouldn't even try (without a step up stick I mean), but he isn't. Every single time it is the same, wether he is about to bite me or not - He whistles cheerfully or says 'hello hello' when I walk into the room, as he always does, I open his cage and he pushes his head towards me for his head scratches and rubs, as he always does, and THEN the problem does or does not start. He either lunges at me with like lightening speed out of literally nowhere and tags me, at which point I DO leave him alone, or he hops immediately right onto my hand and is ready for playtime and cuddle time. I'm telling you guys I am not kidding you, I get no warning or signs or 'body language' to read unless I am literally and blatantly missing something in which case I would give ANYTHING to know what it is, because I have nothing but patience with the little guy, I would never, ever give up on him or give him away, I am here to stay and all I want to do is help him understand that.
Again am I missing something? Or is this perhaps a 'limit pushing phase' that will hopefully subside if we work with him on his time and etc?

I love the idea of the step up stick, I am on my way to get one now. I also like the idea of distracting him with toys and treats (although I do try that already), so I went out today and bought him so new presents.
 

Barnaby Rose

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So he's about a year old right? He's a toddler. He's not bipolar. He's ready to start pushing boundaries and testing what he can get away with. He's giving you warning signs before the bite, but you aren't used to reading them. It's possible he's biting because he doesn't want to be picked up, so at that point you really don't want to give him to opportunity to bite.

It's a great time to get him used to using a step-up stick. When my grey was the same age she started biting my husband. Simple fix to that--he now moves her with a step up stick. He hasn't been bit in years. By preventing the bite in the first place you aren't giving him the chance to pick up the habit. If you use the stick and he bites the stick there's no real reward in that, so the behavior will go away eventually.
Thanks for the reply, few questions for you - does your grey STILL display this behavior to this day, if your husband does NOT use the step up stick, or has she completely grown out of it and it is no longer necessary?
Also, when this happened, was she the same way with you personally, and you had to use the stick as well - or just with your husband?
Thanks again
Barnaby
 

Ribbit21

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Thanks for the reply, few questions for you - does your grey STILL display this behavior to this day, if your husband does NOT use the step up stick, or has she completely grown out of it and it is no longer necessary?
Also, when this happened, was she the same way with you personally, and you had to use the stick as well - or just with your husband?
Thanks again
Barnaby



She's nearly 5 now, but she still does the behavior with my husband. He doesn't pick her up with bare hands unless it's a safety issue and she needs to be moved quickly. She will attempt to bite if he doesn't use the stick. It doesn't really change their relationship at all. They can still be close to each other, he still gives her toys and treats and they chat with each other. They just have a more hands off relationship.

With me she's is different. She has an attitude with everyone. That's just her personality. I just never gave in to any of her crap, so she rarely attempts it now. The only time I use a stick with her is if she's up high and I can't really reach her easily. That doesn't mean I never get bit, but 99% of her bites are bluff. She bit very hard when she was younger. I just never gave her the reaction she wanted. She now knows that if she acts like a "wild beast" LOL that she doesn't get to be on or near me. Removing "me" is enough of an incentive for her to stop the behavior. That being said, she gets into moods and at that point she needs to to re-directed to her playstand, given some snacks, and she really just needs to be by herself for 15 minutes to unwind a bit.

My husband still uses the stick because he's not her person. Removing his affection doesn't give her the same incentive. The stick is just a buffer to prevent the bite. They have a much better relationship because of the stick.
 
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