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Katira

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Hi all!
First time poster here! :newhere: I am Katira, I am 23 and an online student, bibliophile and full-time bird nerd.

Welcoming all helpful suggestions for me and my two best bird friends!! :irn::heart::bcc:

So a little backstory: I was given my IRN :irn: Apple, by a friend who bought him in a breeding pair. He was way too timid and the female just beat him up constantly and he was too terrified of everyone in the house (especially her 3 kids). She was going to sell him but when I freaked about meeting them, telling her that they were the most beautiful birds and how I always wanted an IRN, she just gave him to me instead!!! THE BEST GIFT OF MY LIFE, for real. I suspect he has never had the opportunity to be outside a cage except to be put in the females cage... Poor little guy... He was really scared when I got him... and fat... According to the vet.

So when I got him, I let him out immediately and we have built a wonderful trusting relationship, evolving from panic-flying into things if I come within a few metres from him to him giving me kisses daily and flying into whichever room I am in just to be close to me. However he is still fearful of hands but he will step onto the grate from the top of his old cage. Now that he trusts me, if I hold the grate thingy up, he will fly to it! :swoon: I was always amazed at how gentle he was the few times he needed rescuing and I did offer my hand (for example a few times he flew into the bathtub with wet wings while we were showering). He never really bit, at least never breaking skin and he was so gentle to take treats despite starting out as such a frightened bird. But this has changed and I am not sure what to do...

About 4 months ago, I adopted a little conure to be his buddy... Cheeky the Toad:bcc: Wonderbar! He's so calm, so cute, so silly, makes toad sounds, will sell his soul for a sunflower seed. Adorable!

I felt like Apple had been lacking connection and socialization because he was still frightened of me, and I figured he must be lonely. I also thought that if he saw how this bird (Cheeky the Toad) stepped up and how Cheeky was still happy and safe, Apple (the IRN) would feel more comfortable trying that too. WELL that did work kind of... for a little while...(By the way, after chatting through the walls during Cheeky's quarentine period, when they finally met they became best friends immediately. They are both males if you are wondering.) Cheeky seemed to really bring Apple out of his shell, he even landed on my head after a shower one day, hence the photo of him on my head with Cheeky on my shoulder.

264884932_10218894228777938_3894897158732631257_n.jpg
But now, Apple has started acting somewhat aggressive with me :sigh:

It started with him being protective of Cheeky, within the last month. When I try to pick Cheeky up mostly Apple started lunging at me, which he had NEVER done before. Cheeky will chase Apple away and then come back and let me pick him up, but sometimes he will run behind Apple and I will have to just leave them. He has started being a bit cage defensive as well... which is new. I use to try to offer my hand or move things while he was in the cage sometimes before having Cheeky and Apple would just fly to another part of his cage and avoid my hands. But now he is sometimes lunging when I go to close his cage door at night or lunging at me if I move dishes or whatever. :sad5: Its not all the time, but its made me feel a bit anxious because previously he was SO GENTLE and it came as a surprise to see him act this way. But I am thinking, he just really loves Cheeky and maybe he is hormonal because of all the preening and company he wasn't used to before Cheeky joined us.

But then heres another strange thing that I didn't really see coming... One day I pick cheeky up to bring him in my room to be with me while I do my schoolwork (I normally bring cheeky first and then bring apple with the grate because he is nervous flying through the doorways) and what happens?? Apple flys right on my arm for the first time ever! :excited1:I get maybe a little too excited and he flys away. But then times after this initial breakthrough, he would do this, fly onto my arm, but then proceed to bite my arm. I tried to not make loud noise or shake him off or anything, and manage to get him to step off my arm and he is lunging at me! :scared2: I didn't even go in his space to offer my arm in the first place! Because he would lunge at me! I don't understand why he is acting this way! And still he will leave cheeky to be with me if I go into another room. So I am not sure if the problem is just being protective..?

This morning when I take their blankets off, and give them their morning kisses and treats, after giving a couple regular gentle kisses and target training and tricks, Apple bites me in the lip and makes his aggressive squawk! It was more of a threat than a bite but my lip still stung and got inflamed, but no blood (but it hurt my feelings). :sad11:
I said to him as calmly as I could, "You cannot do this, I cannot give you kisses if I am afraid you will try to bite me!" And I take a deep breath and ask him to give me a gentle kiss and he does so I click and give him a treat.

I am wondering if its hormones because it appears to be aggressive outbursts and then he calms right down and still wants to participate and be included. I am wondering about body language too, because he doesn't appear like hes warning me. And he isn't fleeing or acting scared... But its quite scary for me and I don't want to do anything to make it worse and I don't want to stop offering him kisses because its just about the only way he have had actual connection.


How can I train this away? Suggestions?? Any ideas why he is acting this way now??

Hormones?? Beginning molting season early?? Jealousy?? (of me or his new friend or both??)

Could it be diet related?? They eat pellets, fruits (apples, grapes, pomegranate, banana, berries) and veg (cukes, fresh greens, peas, carrot, corn, yam, beets, peppers) in the morning and cooked rice, beans, pasta, and cooked veg at night. They get A LOT of seeds from good morning to goodnight for training and bonding...But Apple flys all over the house so I figure he gets enough exercise for the seeds he eats and I make Cheeky do target training and run all over the place for his treats. But could Apple be missing something to make him act this way? Too much of something?

Poor sleep?? here's another thing... We had problems with mice in the bird's room this winter and I think I finally caught the little jerk mouse, but I know he was climbing in Apples cage and I imagine that'd make it hard to sleep at night :'( Poor kid. But I really couldnt do much except keep everything as clean as possible and set traps. But I obviously couldn't set any traps in the cage so I would find droppings in the morning and empty traps. I was cursing this mouse everyday while I cleaned. So maybe he could he be cranky and tired and stressed from that stupid mouse intruder??

TLDR: I have had my IRN for 1 year with no biting. I got him a bird friend and now he bites.

Please share any wisdom you have!! I will greatly appreciate guidance, I seriously love this bird dearly and his new brother. I want them to be happy and healthy. I want to be a safe person for him and his new friend Cheeky the Toad. Anyway, thanks!!

:AArocks:

-Katira
 
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AussieBird

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fashionfobie

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I do not have experience with conures, but I have experience with Asiatic parrots.

I am sorry to read that you are having so many challenges. I wish I knew the exact reason for Apples behavioral change, but of course I can't fully know Apple, so everything I suggest is only that a suggestion. I think it is important to remind yourself that bringing a new bird in to the home will always change the dynamic. Especially if Apple was lonely or neglected before, sharing your time with another bird may cause jealously. It sounds like you hoped it may encourage Apple to see another bird interact with you, maybe Apple doesn't agree. Keep in mind that IRN do not require physical touch to form social and meaningful relationships with us. So even if he was afraid of your hands, he probably thought you were pretty fun, and let him fly around more etc. I think the best stepping stone is trying to give Apple more challenging activities, more difficult foraging toys. Give him something more fun than biting you. Sadly if we react to bites, the parrots can start biting more often.. it is healthier for all involved to avoid bites. Hormones are always a possibility, but they can't be an excuse. They are just part of Apple being a living creature, as they are for all of us. So don't think of hormones as something you need to remedy, more of something to be patient with. I suggest disengaging from the situation if he is being pushy. Watch parrots have conflicts with their own kind in the wild, they will usually remove themselves from the situation and fly to another perch. Turn your back to Apple and walk away. Try doing calm activities around Apple (like reading) but keep your back turned to him. Show him that you can be a calming presence and a good flock mate. If he sneaks up on you or bites just walk away.

Hand fear is difficult to overcome. You could start with some target training and encourage him to perch to a stick. Then slowly over the course of weeks or months you can work toward the hand. Keep your hands lower and move in a predictable manner. Parrots express a lot about their intentions through slight body movements. A slight head bob, shoulder shrug or cheek fluff communicate complex ideas, like 'hey friend let's fly!' If you are mindful of your own movements you can establish better trust... As example the position of your thumb when you ask for a step up and the way your hand faces him should always be the same. He will come to know this means a safe perch, and a good place to step. As another example, birds that recalled to a hand, now recall to your head, the hand was probably moved during a recall and the parrot decided it wasn't a good perch to land on from flight. It is an easy mistake for us to make, just adjusting our arm slightly for comfort, but these motions mean something to birds.

I am unsure if this advice is what you were after. But generally it is hard for us to know what is going on without seeing how the bird is moving and reacting. So hopefully this give you some ideas. At the end of the day we must always remind ourselves that our birds are adult independent animals, the best we can do is respect their intelligence and work everyday to make sure they have a good day. I am sure with patience you will reestablish a safer flock dynamic and avoid bites.
 
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Zara

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Katira

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I do not have experience with conures, but I have experience with Asiatic parrots.

I am sorry to read that you are having so many challenges. I wish I knew the exact reason for Apples behavioral change, but of course I can't fully know Apple, so everything I suggest is only that a suggestion. I think it is important to remind yourself that bringing a new bird in to the home will always change the dynamic. Especially if Apple was lonely or neglected before, sharing your time with another bird may cause jealously. It sounds like you hoped it may encourage Apple to see another bird interact with you, maybe Apple doesn't agree. Keep in mind that IRN do not require physical touch to form social and meaningful relationships with us. So even if he was afraid of your hands, he probably thought you were pretty fun, and let him fly around more etc. I think the best stepping stone is trying to give Apple more challenging activities, more difficult foraging toys. Give him something more fun than biting you. Sadly if we react to bites, the parrots can start biting more often.. it is healthier for all involved to avoid bites. Hormones are always a possibility, but they can't be an excuse. They are just part of Apple being a living creature, as they are for all of us. So don't think of hormones as something you need to remedy, more of something to be patient with. I suggest disengaging from the situation if he is being pushy. Watch parrots have conflicts with their own kind in the wild, they will usually remove themselves from the situation and fly to another perch. Turn your back to Apple and walk away. Try doing calm activities around Apple (like reading) but keep your back turned to him. Show him that you can be a calming presence and a good flock mate. If he sneaks up on you or bites just walk away.

Hand fear is difficult to overcome. You could start with some target training and encourage him to perch to a stick. Then slowly over the course of weeks or months you can work toward the hand. Keep your hands lower and move in a predictable manner. Parrots express a lot about their intentions through slight body movements. A slight head bob, shoulder shrug or cheek fluff communicate complex ideas, like 'hey friend let's fly!' If you are mindful of your own movements you can establish better trust... As example the position of your thumb when you ask for a step up and the way your hand faces him should always be the same. He will come to know this means a safe perch, and a good place to step. As another example, birds that recalled to a hand, now recall to your head, the hand was probably moved during a recall and the parrot decided it wasn't a good perch to land on from flight. It is an easy mistake for us to make, just adjusting our arm slightly for comfort, but these motions mean something to birds.

I am unsure if this advice is what you were after. But generally it is hard for us to know what is going on without seeing how the bird is moving and reacting. So hopefully this give you some ideas. At the end of the day we must always remind ourselves that our birds are adult independent animals, the best we can do is respect their intelligence and work everyday to make sure they have a good day. I am sure with patience you will reestablish a safer flock dynamic and avoid bites.
Thank you this is really helpful. Especially the part about turning around and exiting the situation. I appreciate you sharing your insight, and I love how he likes to just be in the same room, if he doesn't want to be handled I am totally cool with it :)
 

Monica

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@fashionfobie has some great advice!

You have done amazing with Apple! IRN can be difficult to work with, and so many people would rather take away choice and force them to accept being handled! Instead, you have given him choice!

Getting another bird can indeed help! Monkey see, monkey do! Birds can learn behaviors from others.

However, it sounds like Apple has bonded too much to Cheeky and may be resource guarding him/his cage now because of it.


Are they caged separately or together?

Have you done any target training or station training with Apple in the cage? Door doesn't even need to be open! Just training through the cage bars.

If he flies to your arm, I would suggest *immediately* stuffing a toy or treat in his beak to make it harder for him to bite! Otherwise, direct him off (cue him to fly to a specific spot?) and try working on this behavior from a flat surface. That is, teach him to target over to your hand, then touch your hand, then put a foot on your hand, etc. Break it up into tiny steps that he can accomplish.


If he does bite you, please get him off of you! By allowing him to bite, you are only reinforcing his need to bite! This alone I would highly recommend teaching him to fly to a certain spot on cue... be it his cage or a stand!



Unfortunately, birds being as finicky as they are, it can be difficult at times to figure out their behaviors! Giving him something to do may help calm him down. For ideas, check out these pages and the video!



Parrot Enrichment Book Download (check out the entire website!)






 

Katira

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Thank you! This is great insight, I really appreciate it.

Apple has his own cage but has started sleeping in Cheeky's cage at night. Thoughts? Should I make him sleep seperately? He seems to wake up in a better mood when they share the cage. I used to seperate them and Apple would wake up way too early (after maybe 6 or 7 hours of sleep only :/) and in a terrible mood. I figured, if I had a best friend I would want to choose whether or not to share space with them and snuggle. I would be angry if someone forced me to sleep alone when I want to sleep with my snuggle buddy. I am happy to report that we have not had any incidents since I originally posted this!

I have increased training with Apple and tried to casually move away if it looks like he is charging or getting ready to lunge at me, but not flinch. I act like I dont notice, and try to act like I was making my own decision to move this way or that.

I have been giving him and cheeky treats when Apple is cool about picking cheeky up. Ive found that upping the positive reinforcements has really helped. He climbed on my shoulder while I was working on school work the other day and I did, as you say, *immediately* stuffed his beak with a shelled almond. He stayed a couple minutes and knawed on the shell. I felt totally honoured to have him there! Then he climbed back to his perch. No harm done!

I think I better understand him as a bird as an individual and as an IRN since sharing this! Thanks all who responded <3
 
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Katira

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Thank you! This is great insight, I really appreciate it.

Apple has his own cage but has started sleeping in Cheeky's cage at night. Thoughts? Should I make him sleep seperately? He seems to wake up in a better mood when they share the cage. I used to seperate them and Apple would wake up way too early (after maybe 6 or 7 hours of sleep only :/) and in a terrible mood. I figured, if I had a best friend I would want to choose whether or not to share space with them and snuggle. I would be angry if someone forced me to sleep alone when I want to sleep with my snuggle buddy. I am happy to report that we have not had any incidents since I originally posted this!

I have increased training with Apple and tried to casually move away if it looks like he is charging or getting ready to lunge at me, but not flinch. I act like I dont notice, and try to act like I was making my own decision to move this way or that.

(Yes btw, we do target training everyday. I haven't really done it while he was inside the cage... I am curious what is the benefit to doing that?)

I have been giving him and cheeky treats when Apple is cool about me picking cheeky up. Ive found that upping the positive reinforcements has really helped the situation, and changing my attitude tbh. I have tried to just be in the room with him, as that is what he really likes. And we target train and practice different things. I think he is pretty close to his own version of flight recall when I hold up the grate bars, he flies to it 90% of the time. When he flies to me, he get a click and treat now! Its so special, when I got him, I never imagined he'd get this far in such a short time. I look forward to many more years with him<3 I am so grateful for him, he has great potential!

He climbed on my shoulder while I was working on school work the other day and I did, as you say, *immediately* stuffed his beak with a shelled almond. He stayed a couple minutes and knawed on the shell. I felt totally honoured to have him there! Then he climbed back to his perch. No harm done! Very exciting!

I think I better understand him as a bird as an individual and as an IRN since sharing this! Thanks all who responded <3 Please let me know what you think about the target training and the sleeping arrangements <3
 

Katira

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Thank you! This is great insight, I really appreciate it.

Apple has his own cage but has started sleeping in Cheeky's cage at night. Thoughts? Should I make him sleep seperately? He seems to wake up in a better mood when they share the cage. I used to seperate them and Apple would wake up way too early (after maybe 6 or 7 hours of sleep only :/) and in a terrible mood. I figured, if I had a best friend I would want to choose whether or not to share space with them and snuggle. I would be angry if someone forced me to sleep alone when I want to sleep with my snuggle buddy. I am happy to report that we have not had any incidents since I originally posted this!

I have increased training with Apple and tried to casually move away if it looks like he is charging or getting ready to lunge at me, but not flinch. I act like I dont notice, and try to act like I was making my own decision to move this way or that.

I have been giving him and cheeky treats when Apple is cool about picking cheeky up. Ive found that upping the positive reinforcements has really helped. He climbed on my shoulder while I was working on school work the other day and I did, as you say, *immediately* stuffed his beak with a shelled almond. He stayed a couple minutes and knawed on the shell. I felt totally honoured to have him there! Then he climbed back to his perch. No harm done!

I think I better understand him as a bird as an individual and as an IRN since sharing this! Thanks all who responded <3
Ignore this, and skip to the next one. I ran out of time editing...
 

fashionfobie

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Please let me know what you think about the target training and the sleeping arrangements <3
Hey no worries. I am glad that some of the advice worked for you.


I regards to sharing a cage, I understand your want to respect the birds' choice. That said, I think it is potentially dangerous. In a tight closed space the birds can not get away from conflict. This can cause escalation and lead to serious injury. No matter how close of friends birds are or even if they are mates, they can have conflicts. Now of course when they are sleeping things are probably relaxed, but let's imagine one bird has night frieghts and crashes into the other? Or if they wake in the morning before you and are in a bad mood. You can't know they are always safe. I personally would never cage parrots of different species together, and even of the same species I would be very very careful. I would only "cage" together if it were a large aviary with room for birds to get away and find their own space, most cages do not provide this.

I hope this helps. :)
 

Monica

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Apple has his own cage but has started sleeping in Cheeky's cage at night. Thoughts? Should I make him sleep seperately? He seems to wake up in a better mood when they share the cage. I used to seperate them and Apple would wake up way too early (after maybe 6 or 7 hours of sleep only :/) and in a terrible mood.
Main thing is, use caution! And if you notice *any* issues, be willing to separate!

Sharing a cage may increase aggression/resource guarding in one or both birds.

Have you ever had them in cages right next to each other?


I'm with @fashionfobie in many ways. The first time I caged two separate species of different sizes together was my first cockatiel and first conure - Noel, a cherry head. I was completely against it, as well as Noel, at first! Casey, the cockatiel, wouldn't take no for an answer! :headsmack: Casey ended up worming her way next to Noel and they were close until the Noel's passing. Casey has never bonded with another bird like that since - although she still recognizes the birds around her as part of her flock. She will be 21 years old this year, I've had her since she was 5 months old. I had her for about a month before Noel came into our lives and he was with us for a little over 8 years. I'm not sure how old he was when he passed on from his health issues.

I have Charlie, a mitred conure. He'll be 28 this year and I've had him since he was 12 (so just over 15 years) I also have Merlin, a green cheek conure. He should be about 5 or 6 years old? I've had him for nearly 4 years now. The two have been living together in a large aviary - 5' x 5' x 6' for some years now without issues. I've even caught the two preening each other! That is, until Merlin decided to mutilate the top of Charlie's head right before Christmas last year! Charlie is about 3x the size of Merlin. I had to swap Merlin out with two "smaller" birds (well, one's smaller! A bourke parakeet! Casey isn't exactly smaller than a green cheek!) since I did not have an extra cage set up at the time. This worked fine temporarily. Charlie's head feathers have almost completely regrown now, although he still has one or two scabs that need to heal.

Over a month later, I now have 3 cages set up to house 4 birds! Not currently using my big cage, unfortunately.


Charlie is missing half of his lower beak as well - which occurred in his foster him - prior to me getting him. He got along great with 3 amazons - bossing them around. They would always move out of the way for him! In the home at the time was also a blind ruby macaw. If he could pick on the amazons, why not the macaw? Half of his lower beak was crushed and he underwent two surgeries to try and fix it. He's learned to eat and drink with only half his beak ever since. This also means he needs beak trims for the rest of his life.


I wish I knew why Merlin decided to go on the attack! I know he desires companionship from another bird, so this is quite out of the blue. I may never know. I wouldn't hesitate to put Charlie and the two smaller birds together again in a large cage (aviary), but I refuse to put them together in a smaller cage!


I have increased training with Apple and tried to casually move away if it looks like he is charging or getting ready to lunge at me, but not flinch. I act like I dont notice, and try to act like I was making my own decision to move this way or that.
This is fantastic! The more you learn to read their body language, the more you can work with them in a way that they don't feel stressed out! :)

(Yes btw, we do target training everyday. I haven't really done it while he was inside the cage... I am curious what is the benefit to doing that?)
Working on training while in, on and around the cage can help a bird feel more comfortable with a human near their cage and can be great for getting them to go in and out of their cage with ease.

I have been giving him and cheeky treats when Apple is cool about me picking cheeky up. Ive found that upping the positive reinforcements has really helped the situation, and changing my attitude tbh.
If more people thought this way and did this, there would be so many more happier birds out there!

He climbed on my shoulder while I was working on school work the other day and I did, as you say, *immediately* stuffed his beak with a shelled almond. He stayed a couple minutes and knawed on the shell. I felt totally honoured to have him there! Then he climbed back to his perch. No harm done! Very exciting!
Love it! If possible though, I would still try to teach him to fly somewhere on cue!
 
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