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New male Goffins owner - face biting and hormones?

peggopanic

Sitting on the front steps
Joined
9/13/20
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Peggy Wang
Hi, been lurking for years when I had my yellow naped and recently (end of July) adopted an 11 year old male goffins. Not much history is known, the first owner of 10 years or so was a man that allowed him on the shoulder so Jeffrey is shoulder only (extremely difficult to manage this one, he’s shoulder only) and also a plucker and now just being crazy which seems normal for goffins? He’s had two owners in between that were men that I’m aware of, one for nearly a year until a few months ago and the most recent must’ve been a woman (she lasted a few weeks). So Jeffrey was usually kept uncaged in the store and was apparently friendly but around May/June he was placed into a cage as he started biting customers. He’s already had a biting habit as I was warned but recently, he’s come after my face. I’ve had him for less than 2 months so it’s been confusing with his behavior changing so much. I’d brushed his wings a few times or grabbed his body and shook him a few times for fun but have kept it mostly non sexual (head only). We bonded quite a bit at first but it seems like he’s realized I won’t mate so I’m not sure if he’s reacting badly. He was fine with my dad at first (covid, I’m at home with my elderly parents) but around 2-3 weeks ago, he actually started attacking him and today he actually flew from his cage to attack him. As for myself, I generally take him outside for sun in the mornings and evenings. A few days ago, he climbed down my chest (which he has done when running back and forth) and suddenly stopped on my chest to nip at my chin and when I tried to brush him away, he took a deep chomp into my hand which has been the worst since I’ve gotten him to be honest and traumatized me a bit. Anyway, he enjoys going outside and I’ve been experimenting. Earlier today he jumped onto my shoulder on the way out and as I walked a few yards, he suddenly climbed down the front and I immediately jerk and put my arms up to prevent him from attacking my face and he got my hand instead. His behavior has warped a few times, I believe he’s never attacked my mom cos he’s been courting her after failing to do so with me. He hasn’t bitten her hard or attacked her face but he does it to me now, half the time. I want to note that he refuses to step up on hands or sticks and only steps up on arms. I’d been pretty lax with ‘punishing’ as I don’t like to do so (but will force him into a cage) and I’m also afraid of him plucking even more. His feathers peeked through a bit this summer but he plucks for attention as well so I didn’t want him to start mutilating by forced cage time. But also want to note, he’s been biting harder. There’s obv more to the story but I’m a first time Too owner so wanted to see if this behavior sounds normal and how to approach it if so.
 

MommyBird

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Hi Peggy, My wild-caught Goffin and I have been together for 35 years. Somehow, he has managed to be the perfect bird and trained me well.
He has never behaved anything remotely like this, it is not normal. But not uncommon either in some companion parrots for many reasons. (I also have/had several Amazons, and Amazons and Goffins are pretty different in my experience, but mostly in terms of energy and food motivation. They both have very clear body language except Goffin eyes are basically impossible to see pinning.)
All behavior has a reason.
You've done a lot to start thinking about your situation, which can be a scary one for sure!
I'd like to suggest that to guide your thinking you read some of the articles at
Written Works: Learning and Behavior - BehaviorWorks.com
 

macawpower58

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Goffins can be psycho little birds. They can get over excited easily, and then all he!! breaks out.
Keep your bird calm. Keep yourself calm. Rough play (while loved) can lead to biting.

Mine has at times flown and hung off my lip. Then the next day snuggled under my chin.
Then threatened me when my daughters walked by. Then asked for kisses.
At 11 years old yours is in heavy hormonal behavior. Expect outbursts.

Several cautions. Keep him from your parents if they are elderly and easily damaged.
If he's flying, do not take him outside side unharnessed, or uncaged. He can and will someday take off.

If he's been biting lately, stop handling him. Allow him on a stand or his cage top near where you are. NOT ON YOU!
Handling him and getting bit, will escalate the biting. It's fun for him to see you jump and be dramatic.
Will he stay on a cage/perch area?
If not, teach him to. That means returning him hundreds, and thousands of time.
It's a pain in the booty, but he needs to learn a few boundaries, but punishment should never be used.
Redirecting and repetition to establish new behaviors.

Goffins are extremely smart, active, and mechanical.
Give your bird lots of puzzle toys, foraging toys, and things to chew/tear up.
Keep his little mind and beak busy.
 

sunnysmom

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Sorry to hear about the bites. I have a male, wild caught goffin, we don't know his exact age but since he's wild caught, he's at least 28. I adopted him a few years ago. Here is an article that's a good place to start to try to understand behavior a bit. Site Name - Articles - Behavioral - Sex And The Psittacine

It's easier said than done but can you figure out why the bites are happening? Is he biting for attention? Is he biting because he's frustrated? etc.

Here's a little bit about my gofffin, Elvis and biting. When I first got him, he preferred my fiance. We also had a long honeymoon period with Elvis where he would just hang out on top of his cage. Considering that Elvis is now a whirling Tasmanian devil (I mean that affectionately) it's hard to believe there was a time he would sit still. The fiance would come home before me and let Elvis out of his cage. Elvis would pretty much fly over for a few scratches and then go back to his cage. As Elvis got more comfortable in our home, he would spend more time on the couch with the fiance when he was laying down watching TV, with blankets. (Mistake number one on our part.) Having gotten up super early, the fiance would be tired and not really pay attention to Elvis for long. (Mistake number 2). Elvis, I believe started nipping at the fiance's fingers to get his attention. When he saw that the fiance reacted (mistake number 3), the nips became bites. I think it eventually all became a game to Elvis. Biting was his way to get his attention. And then, the bites progressed to some face attacks. I am assuming these were out of frustration/hormones. But it was only hindsight that let me see where all the mistakes were made. In the process of all of this, the fiance became fearful of Elvis. And Elvis knows this and runs with it.

I wish I had some great training advice. I don't. I'm not a great trainer but you can google Barbara Heindenreich for some good training info. So, what do I do now? I keep my 'too away from my fiance. I can't make him work with Elvis to fix things. So, the alternative is I don't let them around each other for more than 5-10 minutes and never unsupervised by me. And when they are together, I tell the fiance all of this attention must be on Elvis for that brief period of time.

Goffins are very smart and very energetic. And get over stimulated very easily. I actually play catch with my goffin to help him burn off some of his energy. But it's a bit of a balancing act because if I see him getting too excited, we have to stop or redirect until he calms down. He has never bitten me intentionally but he has bitten me when playing because he was so excited he mistook my fingers for the toy, etc. Also, I give him lots of toys in his cage. He can easily go through a toy or two or three a day depending on his mood. As macawpower58 said, keeping goffins physically and mentally busy is important.
 
Last edited:

peggopanic

Sitting on the front steps
Joined
9/13/20
Messages
15
Real Name
Peggy Wang
Hi Peggy, My wild-caught Goffin and I have been together for 35 years. Somehow, he has managed to be the perfect bird and trained me well.
He has never behaved anything remotely like this, it is not normal. But not uncommon either in some companion parrots for many reasons. (I also have/had several Amazons, and Amazons and Goffins are pretty different in my experience, but mostly in terms of energy and food motivation. They both have very clear body language except Goffin eyes are basically impossible to see pinning.)
All behavior has a reason.
You've done a lot to start thinking about your situation, which can be a scary one for sure!
I'd like to suggest that to guide your thinking you read some of the articles at
Written Works: Learning and Behavior - BehaviorWorks.com
Thank you for that. It’s a bit uneasy as I’ve never seen such wish washy behavior! I always watch for body language and movement, ‘respect him’ rather than force and dominate early on but I’m sure these are just crazy hormones out of my control!
 

peggopanic

Sitting on the front steps
Joined
9/13/20
Messages
15
Real Name
Peggy Wang
Goffins can be psycho little birds. They can get over excited easily, and then all he!! breaks out.
Keep your bird calm. Keep yourself calm. Rough play (while loved) can lead to biting.

Mine has at times flown and hung off my lip. Then the next day snuggled under my chin.
Then threatened me when my daughters walked by. Then asked for kisses.
At 11 years old yours is in heavy hormonal behavior. Expect outbursts.

Several cautions. Keep him from your parents if they are elderly and easily damaged.
If he's flying, do not take him outside side unharnessed, or uncaged. He can and will someday take off.

If he's been biting lately, stop handling him. Allow him on a stand or his cage top near where you are. NOT ON YOU!
Handling him and getting bit, will escalate the biting. It's fun for him to see you jump and be dramatic.
Will he stay on a cage/perch area?
If not, teach him to. That means returning him hundreds, and thousands of time.
It's a pain in the booty, but he needs to learn a few boundaries, but punishment should never be used.
Redirecting and repetition to establish new behaviors.

Goffins are extremely smart, active, and mechanical.
Give your bird lots of puzzle toys, foraging toys, and things to chew/tear up.
Keep his little mind and beak busy.
Thanks for all the great advice! Yeah my parents are elderly but in great shape. I was only concerned when my dad told me the bite on his toe is still sore and it’s been a month (my Amazon usually leaves a bite that doesn’t hurt after a few days) so will need precaution there.

I’ve definitely started with keeping a distance and not allowing him to run up my shoulder. It’s awkward as I have to hold him high but it works. If he manages to get on, I immediately push him off. He’s also getting more cage time but that’s only because it’s impossible to get him back in. I pretty much am covered in little bites. One day his bites are bluffs and the next they’re full on drawin blood. I’m chaulking this up to hormones like you said, it really doesn’t make sense how he does a 180 for literally zero reason. I’ve read that makes can be more difficult, I don’t mind Lolita masturbating next to me he’s more violence than love lol.

I feel like having to dominate purely because I can’t pick him up. His original owner must’ve had him step up - only when he wants - by arm and up to the shoulder and I can’t even get him to do that 1/3 of the time which is extremely tiring and leaves me feeling really stupid and submissive haha. Repetition seems to be key onward we go lol. Oh regarding toys, yup, he seems to prefer household items over the expensive baby thinking toys I got him! Just like a cat with packaging....
 

peggopanic

Sitting on the front steps
Joined
9/13/20
Messages
15
Real Name
Peggy Wang
Sorry to hear about the bites. I have a male, wild caught goffin, we don't know his exact age but since he's wild caught, he's at least 28. I adopted him a few years ago. Here is an article that's a good place to start to try to understand behavior a bit. Site Name - Articles - Behavioral - Sex And The Psittacine

It's easier said than done but can you figure out why the bites are happening? Is he biting for attention? Is he biting because he's frustrated? etc.

Here's a little bit about my gofffin, Elvis and biting. When I first got him, he preferred my fiance. We also had a long honeymoon period with Elvis where he would just hang out on top of his cage. Considering that Elvis is now a whirling Tasmanian devil (I mean that affectionately) it's hard to believe there was a time he would sit still. The fiance would come home before me and let Elvis out of his cage. Elvis would pretty much fly over for a few scratches and then go back to his cage. As Elvis got more comfortable in our home, he would spend more time on the couch with the fiance when he was laying down watching TV, with blankets. (Mistake number one on our part.) Having gotten up super early, the fiance would be tired and not really pay attention to Elvis for long. (Mistake number 2). Elvis, I believe started nipping at the fiance's fingers to get his attention. When he saw that the fiance reacted (mistake number 3), the nips became bites. I think it eventually all became a game to Elvis. Biting was his way to get his attention. And then, the bites progressed to some face attacks. I am assuming these were out of frustration/hormones. But it was only hindsight that let me see where all the mistakes were made. In the process of all of this, the fiance became fearful of Elvis. And Elvis knows this and runs with it.

I wish I had some great training advice. I don't. I'm not a great trainer but you can google Barbara Heindenreich for some good training info. So, what do I do now? I keep my 'too away from my fiance. I can't make him work with Elvis to fix things. So, the alternative is I don't let them around each other for more than 5-10 minutes and never unsupervised by me. And when they are together, I tell the fiance all of this attention must be on Elvis for that brief period of time.

Goffins are very smart and very energetic. And get over stimulated very easily. I actually play catch with my goffin to help him burn off some of his energy. But it's a bit of a balancing act because if I see him getting too excited, we have to stop or redirect until he calms down. He has never bitten me intentionally but he has bitten me when playing because he was so excited he mistook my fingers for the toy, etc. Also, I give him lots of toys in his cage. He can easily go through a toy or two or three a day depending on his mood. As macawpower58 said, keeping goffins physically and mentally busy is important.
I am impressed you’ve got a wild caught too! I’d be deathly afraid, to be honest. It’s good that you traced the situation back and figured it out, it makes sense how it progressed. I’m sorry to hear that he can’t cohabitate with the fiancé as another member of the flock! That was my attempt, to get him accustomed to the three of us but how he seems to hate my dad and is wooing my mom (dancing, bouncing, you know, the stuff he did with me before I rejected him lol). I know I messed up cos I’d inadvertently grab him and shake him for fun sometimes (touching the body) and many times, my petting leads to him exhibiting hormonal behavior. As a result, I didn’t do anything different but completely avoid his body aside from head and neck (I do preen him a lot as he’s full of pin feathers) so I know there’s that aspect. I feel as though I confused him and he’s lashing out from that or rejection.

I actually played fetch with him for a bit except I think I was the one running around more haha. Definitely try to burn that energy up, I had given him avicalm and canine CBD at one point but I really don’t like drugging my birbs so that no longer helps.

I now definitely have somewhat changed routine, he no longer gets morning coffee with me outside (that’s how it started) and I don’t allow him nearly my head unless it‘a on my hand. I mentioned to another up there that it’s awkward but I’m trying to get him to step up on my hand instead. Which means, I’ll be trying now as he’s refused to step up the past half hour now. Man, he’s exhausting. Thank you, appreciate your advice! More is always welcome from everyone of course, being a new too parront
 

sunnysmom

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I am impressed you’ve got a wild caught too! I’d be deathly afraid, to be honest. It’s good that you traced the situation back and figured it out, it makes sense how it progressed. I’m sorry to hear that he can’t cohabitate with the fiancé as another member of the flock! That was my attempt, to get him accustomed to the three of us but how he seems to hate my dad and is wooing my mom (dancing, bouncing, you know, the stuff he did with me before I rejected him lol). I know I messed up cos I’d inadvertently grab him and shake him for fun sometimes (touching the body) and many times, my petting leads to him exhibiting hormonal behavior. As a result, I didn’t do anything different but completely avoid his body aside from head and neck (I do preen him a lot as he’s full of pin feathers) so I know there’s that aspect. I feel as though I confused him and he’s lashing out from that or rejection.

I actually played fetch with him for a bit except I think I was the one running around more haha. Definitely try to burn that energy up, I had given him avicalm and canine CBD at one point but I really don’t like drugging my birbs so that no longer helps.

I now definitely have somewhat changed routine, he no longer gets morning coffee with me outside (that’s how it started) and I don’t allow him nearly my head unless it‘a on my hand. I mentioned to another up there that it’s awkward but I’m trying to get him to step up on my hand instead. Which means, I’ll be trying now as he’s refused to step up the past half hour now. Man, he’s exhausting. Thank you, appreciate your advice! More is always welcome from everyone of course, being a new too parront
They can be really stubborn. Almost every 'too I know is praise/reward driven though. If Elvis does something well, and I make a big fuss over it, he will likely do it again and again. Trying to force him to do anything does not work. At all. Plus, they have such a different mind set then dogs, etc that trying to get him to "obey" just isn't a good idea. I have also found that keeping Elvis on a schedule works well. He knows what to expect and adapts really well to that. As for your dad, maybe have your dad be the only person to give your 'too a favorite treat- like an almond?- so he associated your dad with something good.

Yes, living with an actual "wild" animal, can give you pause. LOL. My heart actually breaks that he's wild caught. I always think how traumatic it must have been for him coming here. But I'm lucky that Elvis is actually a sweet boy. But he definitely keeps me on my toes.
 

melissasparrots

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Mine started trying to bite my face within the first year after I got him. I think its fairly common for rehomed cockatoos to go through a chasing or biting phase after being initially sweet when moving into a new home. Cockatoos in particular like to target the face.
If he were mine, I'd limit time spent on me and have frequent but short time out of the cage. Actually, for about a month, I kept mine in a room where I could close the door. Instead of letting him repeat the pattern of biting me, I took myself out of the equation. I let him out in my bedroom which was bird safe and didn't have anything valuable in it and I just closed the door and left. He could have his out of cage time, but I wasn't there to bite. I always did this in the evening when I knew he was a little hungry and dinner was due. His out of cage time ended when I walked in with a bowl of seed and pellets and fresh water. He would go easily back in his cage for food.(I always ration their dry food so they eat their veggies. They are always interested in getting supper in the evening.)
After we'd had a few weeks without a bite, I started letting him have a few minutes on me, but not on my shoulder. I kept a piece of junk mail nearby and if he flew to my shoulder, I'd shove him off with the junk mail. He can fly, so being shoved off my should just means he flew back to his cage. I always put him back in his cage before he had a chance to think about biting. After about 3 months of this, the behavior just kind of stopped and hasn't come back. I've had mine for several years and only had that one period of aggression.
 

peggopanic

Sitting on the front steps
Joined
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Peggy Wang
Mine started trying to bite my face within the first year after I got him. I think its fairly common for rehomed cockatoos to go through a chasing or biting phase after being initially sweet when moving into a new home. Cockatoos in particular like to target the face.
If he were mine, I'd limit time spent on me and have frequent but short time out of the cage. Actually, for about a month, I kept mine in a room where I could close the door. Instead of letting him repeat the pattern of biting me, I took myself out of the equation. I let him out in my bedroom which was bird safe and didn't have anything valuable in it and I just closed the door and left. He could have his out of cage time, but I wasn't there to bite. I always did this in the evening when I knew he was a little hungry and dinner was due. His out of cage time ended when I walked in with a bowl of seed and pellets and fresh water. He would go easily back in his cage for food.(I always ration their dry food so they eat their veggies. They are always interested in getting supper in the evening.)
After we'd had a few weeks without a bite, I started letting him have a few minutes on me, but not on my shoulder. I kept a piece of junk mail nearby and if he flew to my shoulder, I'd shove him off with the junk mail. He can fly, so being shoved off my should just means he flew back to his cage. I always put him back in his cage before he had a chance to think about biting. After about 3 months of this, the behavior just kind of stopped and hasn't come back. I've had mine for several years and only had that one period of aggression.
Thank you so much for this - it feels similar, who knew it would be a common theme? I actually did exactly that yesterday all day (except he’s not food driven. He will eat out of my hand and knows I’m luring him onto my arm and ignores both the food and me. Clever scoundrel). He’s been staying in my room (except when I wrangle him outside for sunlight). I would leave him and let him cry because I always offer a step up and he refuses. He must’ve been in my room for 8-9 hours with me going in/out sporadically. The store I adopted him from called him a drama queen. I’m not sure if it was in general or for a goffins lol but he sure is intense and wants to do what HE wants. I’ve also been throwing him off my shoulder each time except twice today I let him on for two transfers but will keep it at a minimal (sometimes I absolutely have to move, the shoulder is just a cheap move to use ugh). The problem is he’s been a shoulder birb for 11 years. I figure it’ll be habit that’ll take a while to break.
 
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