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Pineapple Conure - At my wits end


Checking out the neighborhood
Hi everyone! I'm a recent addition to these forums. My flock consists of two rescued house sparrows (Keelo and Pippin) and a pineapple green cheek (Ollie). If you'd like to hear our story and meet them I posted pictures and the story of the sparrows up on Welcome Lane. I came here to this section to address the reason I joined which is to hopefully get some kind of help regarding Ollie. This is his story/problem as best as I can explain:

From what we were able to gather at the pet store he was used as a breeder bird and subsequently put up for sale when they either A. got tired of him or B. got a prettier boy. All I can tell is that he must have been mishandled by the breeders as he has a severe hand phobia and is a terrible biter. The store employees told us he is also an escape artist and when we first met him they had him caught in a net after chasing him around the store trying to get him back. They were covered in dust from crawling on the floor and bandages from bites, I could also see the poor bird was stressed out. They knew about us taking in our sparrows and their stories as we bought meal worms from them all the time for Keelo and Pip. They also knew we were looking at conures and actually begged us to take him. We felt sorry for him of course and wanted to give him a better home. They gave him to us for 75 dollars, well below the price range of these birds, just to get him out of the store and his beak out of their flesh. I had done an awful lot of research prior to this as we wanted a conure anyway, I followed all the rules recommended for a new bird, got him a proper diet, treated him as kind and gentle as I could...and then we hit a road block. He doesn't know how to step up, he didn't even know how to play when we first got him, and even now he's still learning that his toys are not just pretty things to look at. I've tried to train him to step up but all he will do is come up, grab the sunflower seed (his favorites) and run away again with no progress, ever. Over time I got him to come on my shoulder at least and later to the point where I can pet him a little when he's trying to get the seed but once he has the seed I'm chopped liver and he ditches me like week old bologna, this has also not gotten better. He cannot be handled without biting and gloves scare him more than hands do. That being said on the occasion we have had to catch him, such as when his band slipped up too high on his leg and got stuck there forcing me to remove it (don’t worry I keep it on a bracelet so we still have proof that he was banded) and also for nail trimmings he does enjoy being petted even though he bites. Every time I turn to the internet I get conflicting information and everything the so called 'recommendations' tell you to do and how it will turn out if you do them seems to have the complete opposite effect on Ollie then it should. I would really like him to learn to be a real companion instead of an attractive ornament I can only look at but not touch for 15 years but at every turn I run into another roadblock. It's been a year and a half of this and we're all getting frustrated which is not good for him either but patience does wear out. I won’t give him away, he's been juggled around too much as it is and he needs a forever home. I'm certain something can be done but just I do not know what.

I appreciate any advice you might be able to provide. If you have questions or need further information please do not hesitate to ask and I will answer to the best of my abilities. I just want Ollie to be happy with us and to get past these terrible fears.


Biking along the boulevard
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Oh Canada
Real Name
Annette Thompson
Have you tried Goodbirds webinars Parrot Digital Media | Online Parrot Media number 8 is free to watch and number 2 is really good for stepping up ...they are all very good and have helped me allot ....I know the time you have spent seems long and it is believe me I have been going on 1 1/2 yrs with my Amazon trying to step up but its slow go with her ...everything on her terms ...if you haven't seen these webinars they will really help you understand the whole birds eye view and how positive reinforcement is the best way to go ...best of luck :)


Walking the driveway
Real Name
First of all, it sounds like you've given this lil' guy a wonderful home... Thank you :) also it is wonderful to hear you made a commitment to him!!

I have some advice but I want to start out to say it will take time. One of my birds, Erica was from a bad pet store and was neglected there. I have had her a 1 1/2- 2 years. Progress has been very slow with her. She is very timid and hates being touched. I completely understand your frustrations. I desperately want to be her friend ... But she still isn't quite ready. Maybe this is the same for your Ollie.

The training you are doing with the treats (seeds) is what you should be doing. Keep offering him a treat for a step-up. Eventually it will click in that bird brain ;)

If the biting is too much for you I would reccomend a 'T-perch'. He will have to get used to it, but I highly reccomend one. I can't imagine owning parrots without on. A t-perch is exactly what it sounds like. A 't' shaped perch. You can make them yourself with wood or purchase them ( I got mine online.)

How often are you working with him in this regard ( training) , and how much out time does he get? Training needs to be consistent. I do sessions with my cockatoo everyday, repeating the same 'trick' or command a few times.

As for toys, unfortunately he sounds like he just doesn't understand what they are :( you will have to teach him. Sounds so silly but take a toy, and 'play' with it. My GCC loves those paper finger traps, but I had to 'play' with one ( aka picking at it with my nails) until she came over and did too. They learn from observation.

I would reccomend, when he's in his cage to drop a seed in his food bowl. He will correlate good treat! with you eventually. Also try to just sit with him sometime- either in cage or out. Talk to him quietly, watch a movie, read to him, but don't directly interact with him. Don't look him directly into the eyes. That is a predator thing. Be very slow, no jerky motions. Do this often. Don't run into forcing him to interact with you. I did that with my bird Erica ( who I mentioned) and it caused some backtracking in her progress... :(

A good thing to keep in mind is that a good chunk of this biting is just a GCC thing. I have had my girl a few years now. She is well adjusted but still bites. They are just very very nippy birds. You have to learn their body language so you can avoid the bites. That said, even knowing her cues doesn't stop me from getting stabbed by that needle beak ;)

With that said- is he just biting when you try to handle him or is there another trigger?

When he bites, put him in either back in his cage for a minute ( don't do it too long! Don't want the cage to be a bad thing- I only put them back in the cage if they are really being 'bad' and usually only for 30 seconds to calm down ) the floor, or onto a perch. Little tip... The 'earthquake' method - I don't know if you've heard of it- but if you have- don't do it. It will break trust. I'm only mentioning it because it is mentioned a lot and it is reccomended to a lot of new bird owners.... Even if it's not a good thing.

I'm sorry if any of this is a repeat of what you've heard. I hope you make progress with your little guy!! :) it will get there!!