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Weaning - Biting - Clicker training?

Littlelovebird

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Hi everyone!

I have a beautiful baby lovebird of nearly 3 months now. I got her about a month ago when she was about 7 weeks or so. Yes this was young. And yes she is not entirely weaned yet. Still on formula 1X a day. We went from 2-3 times a day to one. She has been going back to 2X and begging and we managed to do a full week at 1X recently. We want to cut a bit and try to do 1X every two days be every time we open the cage she begs on cue! As if she knows! Same when we go in the kitchen where we usually give the formula. She is about 10-11 weeks now and we would like to know if you have some tips on:
1. How to get her to wean!
2. How to make the triggers disappear!

we would like to be able to go to the kitchen with her hihi. I try to offee millet, seeds and pellets! There is plenty in her cage and wherever we go with her. She eats some with us and now a bit in her cage too. She is out from 11:00 am to 3Pm and then from 5:00 to 9:30. My boyfriend works night shift so he is at home a lot!If he leaves her in her cage she does the hunger sound eventually. I wonder if we should leave her there longer so she eats in her cage more and eventually wean or if we should keep on taking her out and trying with the pelleta and seeds even though taking her out triggers her?

My second problem is BITING! She used to be scared of us the first couple weeks but she was ok with stepping up and perching on our Shoulders! She likes to be outside the cage too. She became really really agressive and nippy out of nowhere. If she sees my hands she will charge! I cant touch my face if sheis in my shoulder and it can be really tricky to try to get her off. Ive had a lovebird before and he had a biting phase but not as hard and not as agressive! I know about tricker training but the book I have mention Not training when the bird is not completely weaned? I try to take her off my shoulder and leave the room when she bites hard. And I alsomove my hands in a safe distance to get her used to it! I wonder if you would have other tricks?
3. Can I start the clicker training even if not weaned?
4. other tricks to get her to bite less and not has hard?
5. Should I put her back in her cage when she does so and leave her there more often until she is weaned?

thanks for your help everyone!
 

Zara

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We want to cut a bit and try to do 1X every two days
Formula is fed daily. So after you widdle it down to just one night feed, the next reduction is to nothing, the bird will be eating alone and weaned.

I cant touch my face if sheis in my shoulder and it can be really tricky to try to get her off
Try not to let her on your shoulder for now if this is happening.

4. other tricks to get her to bite less and not has hard?
It sounds silly, but the best thing is to try avoid these bites. Not allowing her on your shoulder for now is a good start. After that, be conscious of when your hand is near her, and if you see her feathers between the top of her wings rise, or any other bite warnings, then remove your hand.

5. Should I put her back in her cage when she does so and leave her there more often until she is weaned?
No. If your bird bites and she gets you, just leave her where she is and ignore her for a half minute. Get up and walk a couple of steps away. Putting your bird in her cage is teaching her that if she wants to go back to her cage, all she has to do is bite and she get a free ride. This goes for the rest of her life, when she bites you, ignore her and don´t move her, don´t shout at her and try your best to not react.


When you have her out, and sit with her, do you have foods available? I would always keep little lids of food on my table and a sprig of millet closeby. I would sometimes let the little ones snuggle up with me and put the millet right next to them for them to snack on.
 

Zara

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She is out from 11:00 am to 3Pm and then from 5:00 to 9:30.
What about trying....
11:00-12:30 out of cage
12:30-13:30 in cage
13:30-15:00 out of cage

17:00-18:30out
18:30-19:00 in
19:00-20:00/20:30out

9.30pm is a pretty late bedtime for a young bird.
Try doing something along the lines of what I just wrote, it doesn´t have to be exact. So only having her out for an hour-an hour and a half at a time, then returning her to her cage. Once she is older and weaned you can leave her out for the full time with the door open so she can fly back to eat and drink :)

As for clicker training, I know @Leih has success with that for her Personatus lovebird, so I´m sure conversing with her will be very helpful.
 

Littlelovebird

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Formula is fed daily. So after you widdle it down to just one night feed, the next reduction is to nothing, the bird will be eating alone and weaned.


Try not to let her on your shoulder for now if this is happening.


It sounds silly, but the best thing is to try avoid these bites. Not allowing her on your shoulder for now is a good start. After that, be conscious of when your hand is near her, and if you see her feathers between the top of her wings rise, or any other bite warnings, then remove your hand.


No. If your bird bites and she gets you, just leave her where she is and ignore her for a half minute. Get up and walk a couple of steps away. Putting your bird in her cage is teaching her that if she wants to go back to her cage, all she has to do is bite and she get a free ride. This goes for the rest of her life, when she bites you, ignore her and don´t move her, don´t shout at her and try your best to not react.


When you have her out, and sit with her, do you have foods available? I would always keep little lids of food on my table and a sprig of millet closeby. I would sometimes let the little ones snuggle up with me and put the millet right next to them for them to snack on.
Alright! Thank you so much for all your help. The ignoring and walking away when she bites I was doing that but I was leaving the room instead. I will try just walking away a bit!
As far the feeding, the problem is that the feeding she begs for is the one in the morning when we let her out! So there is no more feeding at night because she does eat a lot during the day and doesnt beg for it during the day. She does have food everywhere near us and her! Its really just when she is in her cage in the morning or we get her out! Maybe trying the schedule you mention will help! I will definitely try it! I was used to having Buck be outside all day but you are right she is a baby still!!
thank you so much for all your help! Really appreciate it!
 

Zara

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the problem is that the feeding she begs for is the one in the morning when we let her out! So there is no more feeding at night because she does eat a lot during the day and doesnt beg for it during the day.
The last feed should always be night. If she is begging for food in the morning too, I would feed her, but that is just me. I posted about my journey with my youngest - most lovebirds wean around the 8-10 week mark, but others just take a little extra time... :)

Maybe some other members will have other opinions.
 

Littlelovebird

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The last feed should always be night. If she is begging for food in the morning too, I would feed her, but that is just me. I posted about my journey with my youngest - most lovebirds wean around the 8-10 week mark, but others just take a little extra time... :)

Maybe some other members will have other opinions.
Yes of course! We do feed her when she begs in the morning so thats 1X a day. She doesnt beg at night anymore so we don't feed her at night anymore. Should we try to offer formula before bed to see if she will take it and beg less in the morning? Or should we keep going like that until she no longer begs in the morning?
 

Leih

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What time does she wake up in the morning? Most birds need 10-12 hours of sleep, in the dark. My lovebird is also a female and at first I would put her to bed for 10 hours. Then when she became hormonal around 10 months I increased her sleep time and 13 hours seems to be working for her. You'll have to think about that later but right now she definitely needs a set routine.

As for clicker training, it did work well for my lovebird, Aoife. She was very nippy and wouldn't step up without biting. They catch on to how it all works really quickly. So when they do what you ask and you click and give them a treat, you're positively reinforcing. When Aoife would go to bite instead of the click I'd turn my back to her for about 5 seconds. Then try again. We do a little training all the time, even just 2 minutes here and there, she really enjoys it. As for the bad behavior, definitely find a way to ignore, for example, my conure does this awful bark when he wants my attention and he is very impatient. I completely ignore him, and I try to leave the room for 30 seconds. Sometimes when I come back he barks again! And so I leave the room again. Can be exhausting but eventually he will learn to associate his barking demand with me going away for a minute instead of getting what he wants.
 

Davi

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I think @Zara has some wonderful advice, as usual! Also, I don't mean to sound like a pushy salesman, but several of my customers are finding my "step-up training wand" very helpful, so it might be worth considering in this case. At any rate, I'm glad you're here and getting some solid advice! :)
 

Zara

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Yes of course! We do feed her when she begs in the morning so thats 1X a day. She doesnt beg at night anymore so we don't feed her at night anymore. Should we try to offer formula before bed to see if she will take it and beg less in the morning? Or should we keep going like that until she no longer begs in the morning?
I'm not sure the answer to this.
I'll tag some members who may have some imput
@Monica @Matto @Laurie @Mockinbirdiva
 

Matto

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I'd recommend switching her feedings to nighttime and giving her treats such as millet and veggies in the morning when she cries. You can do it gradually by pushing back the feeding by 2-3 hours every day until it's around 7 pm. Also, when she wakes up leave her in her cage with treats for a while so that she gets a chance to try them and understands that that is her breakfast.
 

Littlelovebird

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I'd recommend switching her feedings to nighttime and giving her treats such as millet and veggies in the morning when she cries. You can do it gradually by pushing back the feeding by 2-3 hours every day until it's around 7 pm. Also, when she wakes up leave her in her cage with treats for a while so that she gets a chance to try them and understands that that is her breakfast.
Great! Will definitely do that! Thanks for all the help! Ill try all your tricks and see what happens!
My boyfriend did do the schedule that suggested @Zara and baby girl was super calm At the bottom of her cage when I got back from home! Her seeds and pellets dishes are touched too! So looking good on that side! She is not bitting right now and not aggressive! Ill get her in bed for 8 and we will see for tomorrow morning how it goes with trying the millet!
 

Mockinbirdiva

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I'm not sure the answer to this.
I'll tag some members who may have some imput
@Monica @Matto @Laurie @Mockinbirdiva

The one thing to take into consideration with this bird is having left the rest of the clutch before being weaned. When the parents or human takes over in feeding all of the babies are fed at the same time and elicits feeding responses in all chicks in that clutch. As a single baby she may be more needy of comfort feedings as she wishes for in the morning since you don't give her formula at night when she isn't begging for it. I would still offer the night time formula and if she refuses it then give her a small dish of soaked pellets along with some cooked soft sweet potato and other soft cooked veggies like carrot, butternut squash, acorn squash... for a few examples. Build her interest in a variety of vegetables at this young age. The younger they are the less they will consume in harder foods. You can make a mash of varied cooked vegetables and freeze portions that you can easily thaw and warm up to serve both in the morning after the formula and in the evening after the formula along with the soaked pellets. Routine is important and I think you are working on that with a schedule. When she's ready to wean she will stop begging for the formula on her own time, but as long as she wants the formula then do give it to her, never force wean a baby.

They reach an age fairly early where they start becoming a bit more independent and begin to establish their boundary of their cage. They may do the same to siblings with bickering and biting to dominate the space. They'll treat you the same as they would a sibling. Some birds never warm up to stepping up to a hand from the inside of their cage ( their safety zone and territory). Do work on training her to step up to a hand held perch and reward when she does step up on it. After she's out of the cage on the perch transfer her to your hand. At this point as has been mentioned... do not allow her any shoulder time. Birds like to be as high up as they can so you may have to modify a playgym or stand so it's the same height as your shoulder where she will feel less vulnerable on a lower level.

Many of do things differently in weaning. You just have to find what works best for her. I hope I've helped... I'm foggy with little sleep.
 

Littlelovebird

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The one thing to take into consideration with this bird is having left the rest of the clutch before being weaned. When the parents or human takes over in feeding all of the babies are fed at the same time and elicits feeding responses in all chicks in that clutch. As a single baby she may be more needy of comfort feedings as she wishes for in the morning since you don't give her formula at night when she isn't begging for it. I would still offer the night time formula and if she refuses it then give her a small dish of soaked pellets along with some cooked soft sweet potato and other soft cooked veggies like carrot, butternut squash, acorn squash... for a few examples. Build her interest in a variety of vegetables at this young age. The younger they are the less they will consume in harder foods. You can make a mash of varied cooked vegetables and freeze portions that you can easily thaw and warm up to serve both in the morning after the formula and in the evening after the formula along with the soaked pellets. Routine is important and I think you are working on that with a schedule. When she's ready to wean she will stop begging for the formula on her own time, but as long as she wants the formula then do give it to her, never force wean a baby.

They reach an age fairly early where they start becoming a bit more independent and begin to establish their boundary of their cage. They may do the same to siblings with bickering and biting to dominate the space. They'll treat you the same as they would a sibling. Some birds never warm up to stepping up to a hand from the inside of their cage ( their safety zone and territory). Do work on training her to step up to a hand held perch and reward when she does step up on it. After she's out of the cage on the perch transfer her to your hand. At this point as has been mentioned... do not allow her any shoulder time. Birds like to be as high up as they can so you may have to modify a playgym or stand so it's the same height as your shoulder where she will feel less vulnerable on a lower level.

Many of do things differently in weaning. You just have to find what works best for her. I hope I've helped... I'm foggy with little sleep.
Great! Thank you so much for the tips! so I will offer food at night even if she doesnt beg for it! Along with some wet pellets and veggies! She is already a fan of brocoli and does like a bit of couscous but squash and sweet potatoes we never tried! Im afraid that she will go back to 2 feedings a day this way though but I guess in time she will be less interested with the formula.

so far the schedule is helping and she is bitting less! Most of the time its because she uses her beak to climb but she attacks a bit less. Still working on it though!
 

Mockinbirdiva

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Great! Thank you so much for the tips! so I will offer food at night even if she doesnt beg for it! Along with some wet pellets and veggies! She is already a fan of brocoli and does like a bit of couscous but squash and sweet potatoes we never tried! Im afraid that she will go back to 2 feedings a day this way though but I guess in time she will be less interested with the formula.

so far the schedule is helping and she is bitting less! Most of the time its because she uses her beak to climb but she attacks a bit less. Still working on it though!
It's ok if she wants two feedings a day. When she eats more of the other foods on her own she will in time refuse any formula. If she doesn't want it one day she may accept it the next day. Cooked quinoa would be a better choice over the couscous in nutrition. If you have a food processor you can cut cubes of sweet potato, butternut and acorn squash, carrot and chop them fine in the food processor.... mix them all up in a microwave safe bowl, cover with a plate and microwave for 7-8 minutes ( until soft.... don't cover with plastic wrap... it will melt down into the food... I know!) you can then mix the cooked quinoa into the cooked veggies. I make this and store it in zip lock sandwich bags flat in the freezer. I break chunks off to thaw. You can also add to the portion you thaw any other vegetable chopped fine along with some soaked pellets. It looks like this.... ( I also add a little CEYLON cinnamon to flavor but it's not necessary if you don't have that type of cinnamon on hand)

Squash Mash.JPG
 

Littlelovebird

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It's ok if she wants two feedings a day. When she eats more of the other foods on her own she will in time refuse any formula. If she doesn't want it one day she may accept it the next day. Cooked quinoa would be a better choice over the couscous in nutrition. If you have a food processor you can cut cubes of sweet potato, butternut and acorn squash, carrot and chop them fine in the food processor.... mix them all up in a microwave safe bowl, cover with a plate and microwave for 7-8 minutes ( until soft.... don't cover with plastic wrap... it will melt down into the food... I know!) you can then mix the cooked quinoa into the cooked veggies. I make this and store it in zip lock sandwich bags flat in the freezer. I break chunks off to thaw. You can also add to the portion you thaw any other vegetable chopped fine along with some soaked pellets. It looks like this.... ( I also add a little CEYLON cinnamon to flavor but it's not necessary if you don't have that type of cinnamon on hand)

View attachment 326646
Thats great! I'll definitely try that!
Thanks so much for all your help! Really appreciate it!!
 

Littlelovebird

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Hi everyone!

A few updates from Skittles since I started your tricks!
1. @Zara The schedule you suggested helped a lot! She has been in her cage at 8:00 every night and its usually fairly easy to get her back in it as she knows its bedtime etc. It also helped a lot cause my boyfriend started work again so we are less at home and she is more used to her cage
2. The biting is not as intense. She does not attack anymore. There's still a few bites here and there but mostly when she is trying to climb (her beak is really sharp. I'm trying to get her to play with her foraging toys and to use her mineral blocs etc). Should I remove her from my neck when she bites from climbing up there?
3. @Matto We did try offering the formula at night. She ate it like a little pig!! But she would scream less in the morning and eat less formula in the morning which makes it less stressful to go to work knowing she is not starving and will eat later! She has been eating pellets and seeds a bit too but never a lot.
4. @Mockinbirdiva we tried the mix you suggested! She is not a fan so far but we will keep on trying and on trying other veggies other shape, consistency etc! So far broccoli works well and she stole my orange the other day! So thats not so bad. I think oranges and citrus in general are a bit too acid though is that correct? I didn't let her eat a lot for that reason but I'd like to make sure if you guys know! Is it safe?

and finally yesterday, my boyfriend was working a full day shift yesterday, so no one was home for the whole day. I was less worried about it because of the time she spent in her cage lately and the fact that she eats a bit in her cage. When I got home around 5:30 she didnt scream when I got her out. I sat with her and I ate my supper with her next to me eating a bit of pellets. Eventually she perched on her bowl and ate pellets from the bowl. When she started fussing and making the hunger sound I would shake the bowl and she would start eating again. So basically she ate the whole night.... I guess she didnt eat a lot in her cage while we were absent. I put seeds and millet in the cage to make sure I could see if she ate and millet was gone and a bunch of seeds too. But I did not expect her to eat so muchhhh pellets all night! She spent the night eating pellets for a long time in her dish, then napping in my neck and then waking and eating some more etc. She has a preference for yellow pellets, I can tell from the yellow powder in her dish!

This morning I went to work, my boyfriend is at home and reported to me that no hunger scream, she is eating and drinking in her cage and on her playground when he gets her out. Should we be worried about the fact that she wont stop eating now? haha!

Yesterday was also her 3 months! So I'm really glad to see her eat like that and to see her do it on her own! I'm not screaming victory but I think it should be a matter of time until she is weaned now, don't you think?
 

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Zara

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her beak is really sharp. I'm trying to get her to play with her foraging toys and to use her mineral blocs etc
You could offer a cuttlebone or a pedi perch for grooming (beak filing)

Should I remove her from my neck when she bites from climbing up there?
If she is not biting, it would be a shame to not let her up there because her beak is scratching.

Should we be worried about the fact that she wont stop eating now?
Weigh her daily to monitor her weight. If your bird is not clipped, she should be able to exercise easily and somewhat control her own weight. She will be a little over at the moment because she´s still eating formula.

I think it should be a matter of time until she is weaned now, don't you think?
Impossible to say. But she is on the right track :)

Fantastic update! You are doing great with her! :)
 

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It sounds like you are on the right track with the increased feeding. I personally would continue to offer the formula in the morning and at night for a couple more weeks. As long as she eats the formula I would offer it, even if she is doing well eating the pellets. If she completely stops accepting the formula for a week then it would be safe to say you can stop offering it. Just be sure to monitor her weight on a daily basis and monitor how much she eats from her dishes. If she regresses after you've stopped the formula don't worry about mixing it up again as a comfort feeding. She's growing and needs all the nourishment she can get. As long as she is eating a good portion of pellets I see no need to offer a mineral block... but that's me. I see mineral blocks and cuttlebone as porous materials that can absorb moisture and harbor bacteria, especially with birds who love to bathe in their water cups with all the splashing. You can purchase safety pumice perches ( @Love My Zons has them in different sizes)... the top of the perch the foot rests on is smooth and the sides are pumice to help with nails and birds like to wipe their beaks on perches after eating too. Incorporate some softer wood toys with balsa to encourage her to chew and a couple of other varieties as well with a little harder wood. I would also suggest a platform perch made of wood... a few vendors on the avenue sell them.

She may not have great interest in the veggie mix but still offer it... sometimes it takes a while for them to get interested. You can soak a few pellets to put on top of her serving or sprinkle a small amount of the millet seeds to get her to poke around it.
 

Littlelovebird

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You could offer a cuttlebone or a pedi perch for grooming (beak filing)


If she is not biting, it would be a shame to not let her up there because her beak is scratching.


Weigh her daily to monitor her weight. If your bird is not clipped, she should be able to exercise easily and somewhat control her own weight. She will be a little over at the moment because she´s still eating formula.


Impossible to say. But she is on the right track :)

Fantastic update! You are doing great with her! :)
She already has a pedi perch but doesn't perch onit that often. I'll check for a cuttlebone instead of mineral blocs then :. Yes well keep on monitoring her weigh! She was really tiny so a bit more fat won't be too bad. She was around 38-40 grms. when I think the average weight for a Fisher is more around 48-50. I'll monitor her to be sure she is ok as her wings are indeed clipped but growing back quickly so she can easily fly from the living room and reach me in the kitchen. She is pretty active too during the day.

Thanks for all the help again! :)
 
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