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Nippy 9th months old macaw

Ana Sofia

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Ana Sofia
Hey guys!

I got a macaw of 9 months old and he is extremely nippy.

I see he is more nippy when he gets very excited but also everytime we want to walk him with his harness outside he suddenly from being all relaxed inside the house he turns into a nippy dinosaur as soon as we step out of the house. (he doesn’t seem to be bothered by his harness) but I’m worried since he recently does it a lot specially in such times. I’m afraid it will get worse for in a future…

I want to correct that.

Any ideas or tips?
And why do you think he does that?

he eats fresh veggies in the morning, pellets afterwards for the whole day and in the evening a small portion of seed mix. In between I also give him 3 nuts peer day and once in a while one piece of fruit.


Hope you can help me.

He is a hybrid of harlequin and blue throated macaw.


thanks in advance
 

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How long have you had your macaw?
Define nippy (is he biting, or clumsily exploring with his beak)?
What is happening before the nip, and how do you respond to it?

he is more nippy when he gets very excited
Generally speaking, it's best to avoid contact with a bird who is in a heightened state of excitement until their energy levels off (learn their body language cues that reveal that).

In the case of outdoors, you could try having your harnessed bird outside on a stand until they get used to the extra stimulation from outside. Once they can be outside with regular energy levels, then proceed to carry them in your hand.

everytime we want to walk him
I may be reading too much into this, but it's healthiest to adopt the mindset that our birds shouldn't be forced to do things we want them to do (unless they're in danger, for example), they should be offered choices. I may want to train right now because that's when it fits my schedule, but if my birds aren't in the mood, then we don't. We build trust by honouring their choices, and we erode trust be forcing. In all healthy relationships, trust is essential. It's the thing that will cause a bird to warn us with a bonk from their beak when we accidentally scared them, rather than taking a pound of flesh.

Lastly, young birds are still learning the power of their beak and an appropriate level of pressure in various situations.
 
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Toy

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It sounds to me he is either very excited with all the new stuff he sees outside or he is afraid of what he sees outside. There are lots of scary things he sees. How are you carrying him? I like to hold on to at least one foot. Talk to him & explain what he sees. i.e. that's a tree, a bush, a car, a person riding a bicycle, etc. If possible touch the items & tell him it's safe/OK. Perhaps keep the walk to just a limited space until he gets more secure & less excited. We forget in the wild their parents would be showing them what everything is, what's safe & what's not. Parrot's are a lot harder to adjust to new things than say a dog would be. It can take longer, so I'd suggest short walks, maybe a block & gradually work your way up to longer walks. Take along some treats. I like to use shelled pine nuts, some use sliced almonds, etc. When he is acting calm give a treat & say good bird.

When I got JaKhu at 4 months of age we took her out onto our big L shaped front porch & let her go. They had heavily clipped her, so she wasn't able to fly at all. Her balance was bad too. She stuck pretty close at first, so I showed her my hibiscus bushes, which line my porch & she could reach them. She ran all over the porch, ripped leaves, flowers & buds off my hibiscus bushes, played with foot toys, etc. I sat on the steps or on a chair, so she knew I was right there. We also have a aviary in the back yard & she had fun in there too. I can not get her to wear a harness & I am disabled, so I can't go for walks. I wish I could, so I could get her well socialized.

Nippy is pretty normal for his age. It's a macaw thing. JaKhu was also very nippy. He is learning to use his beak, testing everything & how hard he can grab on to stuff. Do not reward nips by saying OUCH or raising your voice. Just remove his beak from your body part & say no bite in a calm voice. Try to redirect his nips with a foot toy or a small stuffed animal. I have JaKhu to the point I can touch her tongue & not get nipped. I did the same with JaJaBinks my previous macaw. JaKhu is now 2 years old & yeah doing terrible 2 things, like pulling my hair, the hair on my arms, refusing to step up, etc. They are a work in progress & generally settle down some around age 3-3.5 years.

Do your best to teach & train as much as possible now, as far as no bite, step up/down, let go, wings up, etc. Try to involve him in your daily activities. During the terrible two's you just have to be patient, but remain strong, as he will test you to the limit.
 

Ana Sofia

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How long have you had your macaw?
Define nippy (is he biting, or clumsily exploring with his beak)?
What is happening before the nip, and how do you respond to it?

Hello!
thank you for your detail answers!
He has officially been with us since February.

he doesn’t really bite but he goes with his beak into our hands and arm several times one time after the other (a bit fast) and sometimes he puts a bit more pressure than others. But definitely not using all the pressure he already has.

Before the nip we are just walking, nothing much really.

And while being nippy we take him to a lower point and we say “no” or “soft” and othertimes we try to offer him a toy instead if we dont see anything else that works of what I said.

He always starts talking and moving his pupils before he starts nipping, and as I mentioned, he normally always do that when he gets excited of something he likes or just when he is very energetic


Generally speaking, it's best to avoid contact with a bird who is in a heightened state of excitement until their energy levels off (learn their body language cues that reveal that).

Yeah to be honest that can be a thing since when he “talks” specially my partner, gets excited and makes him even more excited as well with talking back with him…
I tried to tell him not to do that cause then he starts seeing it as a reward or so but tbh sometimes I also forget…

In the case of outdoors, you could try having your harnessed bird outside on a stand until they get used to the extra stimulation from outside. Once they can be outside with regular energy levels, then proceed to carry them in your hand.

He is used to the harness and the harness is nothing that bothers him.
But I would think you mean the outside movements and all?


I may be reading too much into this, but it's healthiest to adopt the mindset that our birds shouldn't be forced to do things we want them to do (unless they're in danger, for example), they should be offered choices. I may want to train right now because that's when it fits my schedule, but if my birds aren't in the mood, then we don't. We build trust by honouring their choices, and we erode trust be forcing. In all healthy relationships, trust is essential. It's the thing that will cause a bird to warn us with a bonk from their beak when we accidentally scared them, rather than taking a pound of flesh.

Yeah normally I do that all the time but now that you mention it sometimes even when I see he refuses the harness I keep trying and I think I should just respect that of course (however today he seemed to be completely happy I put it on since he was very relaxed and even came to me when he saw it and then he got incredibly nippy outside)

Lastly, young birds are still learning the power of their beak and an appropriate level of pressure in various situations.

with this target training is the key right? to just keep training him with it
 

Ana Sofia

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It sounds to me he is either very excited with all the new stuff he sees outside or he is afraid of what he sees outside. There are lots of scary things he sees. How are you carrying him? I like to hold on to at least one foot. Talk to him & explain what he sees. i.e. that's a tree, a bush, a car, a person riding a bicycle, etc. If possible touch the items & tell him it's safe/OK. Perhaps keep the walk to just a limited space until he gets more secure & less excited. We forget in the wild their parents would be showing them what everything is, what's safe & what's not. Parrot's are a lot harder to adjust to new things than say a dog would be. It can take longer, so I'd suggest short walks, maybe a block & gradually work your way up to longer walks. Take along some treats. I like to use shelled pine nuts, some use sliced almonds, etc. When he is acting calm give a treat & say good bird.

When I got JaKhu at 4 months of age we took her out onto our big L shaped front porch & let her go. They had heavily clipped her, so she wasn't able to fly at all. Her balance was bad too. She stuck pretty close at first, so I showed her my hibiscus bushes, which line my porch & she could reach them. She ran all over the porch, ripped leaves, flowers & buds off my hibiscus bushes, played with foot toys, etc. I sat on the steps or on a chair, so she knew I was right there. We also have a aviary in the back yard & she had fun in there too. I can not get her to wear a harness & I am disabled, so I can't go for walks. I wish I could, so I could get her well socialized.

Nippy is pretty normal for his age. It's a macaw thing. JaKhu was also very nippy. He is learning to use his beak, testing everything & how hard he can grab on to stuff. Do not reward nips by saying OUCH or raising your voice. Just remove his beak from your body part & say no bite in a calm voice. Try to redirect his nips with a foot toy or a small stuffed animal. I have JaKhu to the point I can touch her tongue & not get nipped. I did the same with JaJaBinks my previous macaw. JaKhu is now 2 years old & yeah doing terrible 2 things, like pulling my hair, the hair on my arms, refusing to step up, etc. They are a work in progress & generally settle down some around age 3-3.5 years.

Do your best to teach & train as much as possible now, as far as no bite, step up/down, let go, wings up, etc. Try to involve him in your daily activities. During the terrible two's you just have to be patient, but remain strong, as he will test you to the limit.

yeah any of those two option can very be!

He is easy scared specially when he sees birds flying.
Never thought of it… I would just take him for a walk as soon as I would see he is fine with the harness so Im gonna definitely take it more easy and show him everything better and baby steps.

We also going to add an outside aviary soon. Im hoping that will help him as well to see is normal all what he sees and hears outside.

How long it took for him to stip being nippy and how did you improve that behavior?
Or when he test your limits what would you do and how you show him not to since you are “the boss”?

I feel I need a better way to show Winter he cant control us since I do notice we do answer with an angry voice tone when he nips… specially my partner he can get a bit intimidating when he lose patience with his tone voice.

Normally when we take him out I also try to hold him from one feet but he moves so much and doesn’t seem to like it when I do that. So he is always sitting in my hand or arm. And just when he is being good I let him go to my shoulder as long as he doesn’t get nippy. But since his nails are also very sharp I now also take a steak with me so he can sit there if he prefers
 

Toy

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yeah any of those two option can very be!

I will offer suggests on how I trained my birds....There are 2 types of words to a bird...an action or item. An action would be wings up, dance, step up/down. An item is say a treat (nutriberry, cracker, apple, banana, etc. when offer a treat specify what it is), toy, cage, etc. Pick words that relate to the type of action or item. Your training should be daily. It's like teaching a toddler child, except parrots never grow up like a human toddler does. TTry to keep it fun. Macaws love to play & they love fun. Act silly if need be.

He is easy scared specially when he sees birds flying.
Never thought of it… I would just take him for a walk as soon as I would see he is fine with the harness so Im gonna definitely take it more easy and show him everything better and baby steps.
Yes baby steps. Try to see what he sees that excites or scares him. Explain what it is & tell him it's OK. Touc it if you can to show him its OK. He's still a baby & learning.

We also going to add an outside aviary soon. Im hoping that will help him as well to see is normal all what he sees and hears outside.
Aviaries are great for getting them outside for fresh air & some sun. I suggest your aviary have a roof. Full sun is not good, as they can overheat. I suggest a swing or boing, several perches placed in & out of the sun (only as high as you can reach so you can get him down), 2 or 3 water dishes (I used the ones that twist off a base, for easy cleaning) placed close to the perches so you & he both can easily reach them & some hanging toys. Hanging toys can be hung from the ceiling or sides of the aviary close to a perch. I never feed outside, as to prevent bees from stinging. If it's hot, say mid 80's or higher I put ice cubes in the water dishes. My birds all love being outside in the aviary. My birds are trained to come down to go inside. I take 2 out in crates & one in a towel. Jasmine U2 loves towels, so she climbs down & runs right into a towel. JaKhu & Jengo (CAG) both climb down & go into their crates, as they are fully flighted. We take them out late morning or noon, if the temp is 72 or above. They get brought in late afternoon or no later than 6PM for evening meal. I mastered this by telling them they had to go in crates to go outside & back inside, then I put them in their crates. Soon they learned what I wanted them to do. It's all about using the same command words, asking them to do it & following thru.

How long it took for him to stip being nippy and how did you improve that behavior?
Or when he test your limits what would you do and how you show him not to since you are “the boss”?
Every bird is different so the time can be weeks to months. The key is be consistent with command words, asking the bird what it is you want it to do & be repetitive. I either walk away & ignore her or place her back in her cage & walk away. Wait a bit & try again. I did the same with JaJaBinks. One thing is for sure....you can not force a parrot to do what it doesn't want to. In time they learn.

Example: Tonight I was trying to teach JaKhu to stay on her cage. Up to now she has refused, climbing off & getting into things. Since she is very destructive, unlike JaJaBinks was, I can not trust her for a second. JaJaBinks loved her cage, was not destructive & I could trust her. I could let her out all day with no worries. Once we went away for 3 hours & forgot she was out. Came home to find her sitting on top of her cage looking out the window. She'd go in her cage, play on her swing, come out, back in, etc. Some times she'd come looking for me, but never tried to eat my house. My computer is in the same room as JaKhu & Jengo, so I can see her out of the corner of my eye. She'd climb down the side & try to get onto a stand where we keep treats in containers. I motioned my finger & told her to get up on her cage. She'd go back up & a few minutes later try again. See this is where they test you. I motioned again using the same finger & words. Back up she'd go. If she refused to go up I'd make her step up & put her back up. Finally when she refused to listen I put her back in her cage. End of lesson for tonight. We'll work on it again tomorrow & keep going until she learns.

Jasmine & Jengo both go in their cages on command. It took weeks to get them to do this working with them every day. Command words are "go in your cage". I'd place them in & shut the door. Eventually they learned it & now do it on command. I've had them both almost 23 years now.


I feel I need a better way to show Winter he cant control us since I do notice we do answer with an angry voice tone when he nips… specially my partner he can get a bit intimidating when he lose patience with his tone voice.
Reacting in angry loud voices only teaches them they will get a reaction/reward if they nip, scream, etc. I know it can be hard to ignore them when this happens, but it's best to ignore negative behavior. They eventually learn that negative behaviors will get no reaction, so they quit doing them. Only reward positive behavior. Positive behavor is sitting next to you & not nipping. So offer a reward, either phrase or a treat. He's not screaing, offer a reward.

Normally when we take him out I also try to hold him from one feet but he moves so much and doesn’t seem to like it when I do that. So he is always sitting in my hand or arm. And just when he is being good I let him go to my shoulder as long as he doesn’t get nippy. But since his nails are also very sharp I now also take a steak with me so he can sit there if he prefers
I would not allow him on your shoulder ever. All it takes is a second of excitement or fear & you could lose an eye, an ear or have a nasty bite on your face requiring stitches. It's not safe to allow a macaw on your shoulder. Grip one foot hard enough he can't wiggle away, but not so hard you cause him pain or discomfort. Say "let me have your foot". If he keeps wiggling give a gentle shake of your hand, not so much as you throw him off balance tho, & tell him to hold still. You can also use a travel perch, but then you have to lug it along.

Sharp nails: If you haven't started I suggest you try to do this now....rub his feet. Get him used to having his feet touched a lot. Try to file his nails using a large emery board file for acrylic nails. Hold the nail so it doesn't move back & forth. Some file nails thru the cage bars. Purchase a perch that will help naturally wear his nails down. Place it where he will be on it a lot, like in front of his food dish.

The sooner you teach these things the better he will be in the long run. Each thing you teach will take patience & time for him to learn. Try to keep it fun & reward all positive behaviors with phrase or a treat.
 

Ana Sofia

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sorry for my late reply,
thank you incredibly much! I will definitely gonna follow all your advice!

❤

I got one more question, is it normal that i his 9 months even earlier, he is already very crazy? in the way that in one time he is cuddly and all and the next he is too excited and like if he was “hormonal “?

when he gets like that he suddenly starts vocalizing, moving his body a lot and his pupils go big and small… I don’t know is too soon for him to be like that or what does that means?
 

tka

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Nine months is far too young for a large macaw to be hormonal. Hormones won't kick in properly until he is several years old - I believe it's four to seven years old, but may be older. Swinging between "cuddliness" and overexcitement is very common for parrots - they're a bit like human toddlers in that they can be enjoying themselves and suddenly it all becomes too much and overwhelms them.

Think carefully about your ideas about "control". Parrots do not seek to dominate others. However, it's vital that we form a relationship with them, and that means respecting and honouring their choices. Sometimes we will ask them to do something and they will tell us "no", and it's vital that we respect that "no". No parrot in the wild would force proximity or touch on another bird - the other parrot would simply fly away. There's very little that a parrot must do exactly when we ask. Unless they're in immediate danger, it's fine to give them a few minutes and ask again.

Being able to control their environment is essential for a parrot's mental wellbeing. As Pamela Clark writes,
The longer I live with my own parrots and consult with others about theirs, the more convinced I become that parrots cannot enjoy true behavioral wellness without the abilty to have control over a good percentage of their own choices. They need the liberty to move around and create a life of independence for themselves. Parrot who are micro-managed, unable to move around due to wing clipping and who have little to no control over their existence sooner or later display elements of behavioral pathology, such as screaming, aggression, feather damaging behavior, self-mutilation, and stereotypies.

There is only so much emotional, intellectual, and physical confinement and deprivation that an animal can stand. If you compare the way in which one of your bird's wild cousins lives with the way that your bird lives, it is often a no-brainer to see that more must be done to increase enrichment and opportunity in the home.
Read the full article - it's very insightful: https://pamelaclarkonline.com/screaming

So yes, your bird should be able to control what toys he plays with and when, which perch he uses, where he is in the room, whether or not his harness is placed on him, and whether or not you touch him. I always ask my parrots if they would like a headscratch by making a little scritching motion with my fingers near their head without touching them. If they want a headscratch, they'll fluff up and bow their heads. If they don't, they'll stay still, slick their feathers back or might turn their heads away. Their "no" can be very subtle because I've taught them that I will pay attention and listen to these very subtle signs. If I did not watch and pay attention, they would be forced to say "no" more assertively, by lunging at me, beaking me and finally biting me. A parrot whose subtle signs are ignored will stop giving them and go straight for the bite: they think "well, there's no point in wasting time being subtle and gentle if someone won't listen. If bites are what works, bites are what they'll get".

Do what you can to anticipate his moods. If you start seeing him pinning his eyes and moving his body and fluffing his feathers, don't handle him. Put him on a perch and give him a foot toy to play with.

I'll tag a couple of other macaw people who have gone through the terrible twos with young macaws: @Shezbug @Macawnutz @macawpower58
 

Ana Sofia

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Nine months is far too young for a large macaw to be hormonal. Hormones won't kick in properly until he is several years old - I believe it's four to seven years old, but may be older. Swinging between "cuddliness" and overexcitement is very common for parrots - they're a bit like human toddlers in that they can be enjoying themselves and suddenly it all becomes too much and overwhelms them.

Think carefully about your ideas about "control". Parrots do not seek to dominate others. However, it's vital that we form a relationship with them, and that means respecting and honouring their choices. Sometimes we will ask them to do something and they will tell us "no", and it's vital that we respect that "no". No parrot in the wild would force proximity or touch on another bird - the other parrot would simply fly away. There's very little that a parrot must do exactly when we ask. Unless they're in immediate danger, it's fine to give them a few minutes and ask again.

Being able to control their environment is essential for a parrot's mental wellbeing. As Pamela Clark writes,


Read the full article - it's very insightful: https://pamelaclarkonline.com/screaming

So yes, your bird should be able to control what toys he plays with and when, which perch he uses, where he is in the room, whether or not his harness is placed on him, and whether or not you touch him. I always ask my parrots if they would like a headscratch by making a little scritching motion with my fingers near their head without touching them. If they want a headscratch, they'll fluff up and bow their heads. If they don't, they'll stay still, slick their feathers back or might turn their heads away. Their "no" can be very subtle because I've taught them that I will pay attention and listen to these very subtle signs. If I did not watch and pay attention, they would be forced to say "no" more assertively, by lunging at me, beaking me and finally biting me. A parrot whose subtle signs are ignored will stop giving them and go straight for the bite: they think "well, there's no point in wasting time being subtle and gentle if someone won't listen. If bites are what works, bites are what they'll get".

Do what you can to anticipate his moods. If you start seeing him pinning his eyes and moving his body and fluffing his feathers, don't handle him. Put him on a perch and give him a foot toy to play with.

I'll tag a couple of other macaw people who have gone through the terrible twos with young macaws: @Shezbug @Macawnutz @macawpower58
 

Ana Sofia

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thank you for your detailed answer!

I do respect him and “ask” first but when he gets his crazy moments that look hormonal (even though is not that) is just while he is just chilling with us or during a walk when he is all calm he just change to that other behavior when we are not even handling him. and thats what it comes into my mind what it might be happening inside his head in that twisting mood changes I just want to know out of curiosity and if there is a way to help him if he gets uncomfortable but is lit when we are not even close to him sometimes he even just flies to us as soon as he gets overexcited and thats what I don’t understand as well
 

macawpower58

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I have seen my macaw go through many stages. He is now over 25 years old.

Some were super cuddley, some rebellious and rambunctious, some downright aggressive and dangerous.

Babies and young birds are reaching out, testing and learning what boundaries there are. Their bites can hurt as they're not sure of their strength yet.
Most nips are from over excitement and/or rough play. Like toddlers hitting, kicking and biting. They're just not mature enough to control their escalating emotions.
My opinion is do not teach your young macaw rough play, while fun now, it can backfire drastically as your bird matures.

Once your birds starts to hit the growing years 'say 2-8' you might see more testing of limits. I saw some aggression, but nothing serious. It was easily redirected to play or quiet time.
I made mistakes here though by trying to force 'obedience' for a better word. He's not want off the top of the cage, I tried chasing him down with a perch. It escalated badly and caused distrust on my macaws part. I had to rethink how I'd get him to cooperate and win back his trust. It's truly a long term learning experience. Stepping back and rethinking what you're doing is your best approach if things don't look good.

Once hormones hit, things can take drastic turns. Some birds never really go through much, mine became a devil in red feathers.
This was my hardest time, but it also calmed and lessened over time.

My main thoughts are if what you're seeing now, is stuff you don't like. Step back, walk away, and think about it.
Nothing is worth a fight, unless lives are in danger.
Find another way to approach. Find another way to achieve what you want.
Don't force anything.

TKA is right on with body language.
Learn the feather, body and eye language. Macaws broadcast their emotions and feelings. Learn your birds!

Respect and patience are the keys to a good long term relationship.
Many behavior changes will occur.
A strong foundation built with quiet respect will carry you through them.
 

Ana Sofia

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I have seen my macaw go through many stages. He is now over 25 years old.

Some were super cuddley, some rebellious and rambunctious, some downright aggressive and dangerous.

Babies and young birds are reaching out, testing and learning what boundaries there are. Their bites can hurt as they're not sure of their strength yet.
Most nips are from over excitement and/or rough play. Like toddlers hitting, kicking and biting. They're just not mature enough to control their escalating emotions.
My opinion is do not teach your young macaw rough play, while fun now, it can backfire drastically as your bird matures.

Once your birds starts to hit the growing years 'say 2-8' you might see more testing of limits. I saw some aggression, but nothing serious. It was easily redirected to play or quiet time.
I made mistakes here though by trying to force 'obedience' for a better word. He's not want off the top of the cage, I tried chasing him down with a perch. It escalated badly and caused distrust on my macaws part. I had to rethink how I'd get him to cooperate and win back his trust. It's truly a long term learning experience. Stepping back and rethinking what you're doing is your best approach if things don't look good.

Once hormones hit, things can take drastic turns. Some birds never really go through much, mine became a devil in red feathers.
This was my hardest time, but it also calmed and lessened over time.

My main thoughts are if what you're seeing now, is stuff you don't like. Step back, walk away, and think about it.
Nothing is worth a fight, unless lives are in danger.
Find another way to approach. Find another way to achieve what you want.
Don't force anything.

TKA is right on with body language.
Learn the feather, body and eye language. Macaws broadcast their emotions and feelings. Learn your birds!

Respect and patience are the keys to a good long term relationship.
Many behavior changes will occur.
A strong foundation built with quiet respect will carry you through them.
thank you incredibly much! truly appreciate it!❤
 

Shezbug

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I’m sorry, I’m not exactly sure of what the question is but I note that hormones, eye pinning and nipping is mentioned.

Burt was approx 6 months old when I brought him home, he is now about 4 and a half. (His Gotcha day is very soon!)

I mostly see lots of eye pinning in my bird with any type of excitement (happy, shock or surprise) and also sometimes with a bout of curiosity about new things he sees or hears- I guess that really could be classed as excitement too.
I find his pinning eyes give me the immediate warning that he might be a little impulsive, crazy or excited and his feathers and body language/positioning tells me more about what his mood and acceptance of interactions are like at the time and I adjust my behaviours or requests to better suit his mood or I come back and try again a bit later.

I always tell my bird what I’m doing when it involves him, his stuff or the immediate area around him and I definitely always ask his permission to touch him, to move him, to interact with his belongings (or my belongings that he decided are his) and if he’s agreeable we have no issues- if I ask and he isn’t agreeable but I continue anyway he’ll grab my fingers and squeeze a warning. He always has choices and rights about the times and types of interactions we have.

When he was younger he always wanted something in his beak (usually my hands) to explore, I’d always praise him for gentle beak behaviours and remind him (without any fuss, a simple no or too rough was all I’d say and I’d calmly remove my hand) when he was too rough- while watching him preen or whenever interacting/playing with him I’d say “so nice and gentle, good job” when he was using appropriate beak pressure and whenever he chomped too hard or hit a spot on his feathers that were a bit sensitive and hurt him I’d say “too rough-be gentle”. He worked out pretty fast what was acceptable and what wasn’t regarding how hard he used his beak on me- sometimes now he will hold my hand in his beak and slowly gently get rougher till I tell him he’s being too rough then he will stop and be gentle again, I think he’s double checking he’s still using the right acceptable pressure.

At about 4 years old I saw an abrupt change in his mood and behaviour one morning. He was very frustrated and angry for a while which was the first time that he deliberately tried to hurt me, he was very frustrated at everything and I was to blame for all of it. He is now back to being mostly agreeable trustworthy and sweet again and I’m hoping with all my heart that his mood and behaviour doesn’t get any worse than I’ve already seen for next year. I do believe the change I saw was our first little taste into macaw hormone changes.
 

Ana Sofia

Strolling the yard
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Ana Sofia
I’m sorry, I’m not exactly sure of what the question is but I note that hormones, eye pinning and nipping is mentioned.

Burt was approx 6 months old when I brought him home, he is now about 4 and a half. (His Gotcha day is very soon!)

I mostly see lots of eye pinning in my bird with any type of excitement (happy, shock or surprise) and also sometimes with a bout of curiosity about new things he sees or hears- I guess that really could be classed as excitement too.
I find his pinning eyes give me the immediate warning that he might be a little impulsive, crazy or excited and his feathers and body language/positioning tells me more about what his mood and acceptance of interactions are like at the time and I adjust my behaviours or requests to better suit his mood or I come back and try again a bit later.

I always tell my bird what I’m doing when it involves him, his stuff or the immediate area around him and I definitely always ask his permission to touch him, to move him, to interact with his belongings (or my belongings that he decided are his) and if he’s agreeable we have no issues- if I ask and he isn’t agreeable but I continue anyway he’ll grab my fingers and squeeze a warning. He always has choices and rights about the times and types of interactions we have.

When he was younger he always wanted something in his beak (usually my hands) to explore, I’d always praise him for gentle beak behaviours and remind him (without any fuss, a simple no or too rough was all I’d say and I’d calmly remove my hand) when he was too rough- while watching him preen or whenever interacting/playing with him I’d say “so nice and gentle, good job” when he was using appropriate beak pressure and whenever he chomped too hard or hit a spot on his feathers that were a bit sensitive and hurt him I’d say “too rough-be gentle”. He worked out pretty fast what was acceptable and what wasn’t regarding how hard he used his beak on me- sometimes now he will hold my hand in his beak and slowly gently get rougher till I tell him he’s being too rough then he will stop and be gentle again, I think he’s double checking he’s still using the right acceptable pressure.

At about 4 years old I saw an abrupt change in his mood and behaviour one morning. He was very frustrated and angry for a while which was the first time that he deliberately tried to hurt me, he was very frustrated at everything and I was to blame for all of it. He is now back to being mostly agreeable trustworthy and sweet again and I’m hoping with all my heart that his mood and behaviour doesn’t get any worse than I’ve already seen for next year. I do believe the change I saw was our first little taste into macaw hormone changes.
thank you for telling about your experience! I can also definitely tell that his eye pinning is also a warning of overexcitement, impulsivness and nippy.

I am really sacred caus eof the way my macaw is already while being very young it might get way worse in a future.

I really don’t know how to “educate him” the best way since everybody has their own opinion and that confuses me a bit. I just want to make sure to do it correctly rn that he is still young but the way he acts is really like if he was hormonal (when I know he is not cause he is very young) but he use that tupe of behavior to practice or idk and thats what confuses and scared me as well
 

macawpower58

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Can someone video the behavior you are seeing, once harnessed and outside?
We may be able to spot what is going on, if it's fear, excitement, etc...
 

Hahns0hmy

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Adam
when they tried to nip when younger i would grab the upper beak with two fingers and hold it for a couple seconds to let them know its wrong. I did that early on as babies. I didnt say anything when doing so because it would excite them if so. my largest is a mini macaw though, I dont know if large macaws beaks can be dealt with the same. would be interesting to know if anyone does that to the large ones or has tried?
 

PetFoster

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Julie
I notice that you mentioned he gets nippy or kind of upset during walks when nothing is happening, but you also noted that flying birds upset him. I wonder if that might be an important point: we might not notice birds flying in the distance or overhead because it feels normal, but your baby is nervous about it and trying to tell you that something is wrong, something is dangerous, and we shouldn’t be outside. While you probably can’t touch these birds in flight, can you watch out the window with him and see birds? I wouldn’t put him in view of flying birds for long periods of time, and I would stay next to him, telling him, oh that? That’s a bird, kind of like you. That bird has feathers and a beak and eats fresh food. Now the bird is flying. We can watch the bird flying. You are good at watching. We are safe. Now we see another bird…
Then after a few days of this, or when he seems to stay calm, open a window or a door while you watch, just a little, so you both can hear what it sounds like outside when birds fly by. Keep up the gentle, even-toned reassurances. Then, when you head back outside, only stay there for a moment, and go back in. Try to go back in before he can get excited at all — this way, he has gone outside and had a good experience, regardless of how long it was. You are pushing his boundaries, but not to the point of him having to react. Does that make sense?
 
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