My African Grey Parrot Now Hates Me - Please help me Scott Robins

Mitch

You and I are connected on Linkedin via one of the motorcycle groups.  I am
having an on going problem with my Grey.

I got him one day when we were at a bird store looking for birds and he flew
into my arms (he was being terrorized by some kids.  Anyway he would not let
go of my shirt.  That was eight years ago.  For the first two years I won
him over he would ride on my bicycle with me in the neighborhood on a perch
I set up for him.  Never out of the neighborhood and he seemed to love it.
Some times we were joined my a Macaw I would baby sit.  He would take walks
with me on my shoulder and generally play around.

He came from a family that either ignored him or actually did damage to him
by hitting him.  This did not really bother me when I purchased him as I am
ok with animals - I have always had a couple of well trained dogs around and
currently have a white Shepard and a Choc Lab.  When B joined use it was a
White Shepard and a black lab.  He loves to play with the dogs on the ground
(supervised) and when not he will call them to his cage and throw them food
and generally terrorize them by telling them in my voice go for a walk.
Things like that  - he is smart.

Getting to the point the last three years he has changed a lot.  I can no
longer put him on my shoulder as I am not sure when he is going to take a
piece out of my ear (two already) or poke my eyes.  He has tried that once.

AT times he seems OK then other times he is not.  I generally now ask
permission to pet him and that works, but his moods can change quickly.  We
got him a mate that we are not sure if he was sexed correctly because about
two months ago, we found an bird egg in the cage.

I am beginning to think we have a M/F rather than two M.  That B is being
protective of T and will not let us handle him anymore or a lot less because
of that.  I have tried working with him and I am near at wit's end on how to
handle.

They have two cages one for the day outside (we live just North of Ft.
Lauderdale , FL so most of the time the weather is fantastic and they seem
to love it outside.  The second is the sleep cage indoors for the night.  We
don't want any night predators to get a hold of them so they sleep indoors
or stay indoors on bad weather days cold or storms.

Do you have any suggestions other than re-homing at this time?

I am sorry to be so long winded but I figured you would want as much info as
possible.

If I am imposing just drop the e-mail to your trash box and I apologize in
advance.

Thanks for any suggestions or ideas
Tony


Hello Tony,
 (on behalf of Mitch Rezman)
 
With the behavior changes currently in place and the approximate age of the bird, the bird has become sexually mature and its hormones are cranking. This can increase aggression in birds even to a long time human companion. For instance, a bird that is mature and well bonded to its human may for no particular reason, turn and nip its human. In other cases, the bird may try to bite anyone that it sees as a threat between its human ad the bird itself. If the bird does not make contact with the “intruder” it may just turn and bite its human. As a behaviorist, this is termed “misplaced aggression”’.
 
Additional aggression comments:
Many of our larger parrots will go through a terrible twos period with some aggression and behavior changes at 10-12 years of age. This coincides with increased hormonal changes and Mother Nature controls this. If the bird is a “single bird” in the household, this usually will calm down. You may experience some seasonal fluctuation.
 
The addition/presence of another bird can also trigger these hormonal releases. Parrots will bond with same sex birds if given no other choice. It is important to have birds DNA sexed so you know what you have. Cost is about $30.00 per bird. Having the birds in separate cages is a better strategy unless you intended to breed. GET YOUR BIRD SEXED CORRECTLY IMMEDIATELY.
 
You probably are experiencing threats, attempted strikes; the birds may sit close to each other with one bird spreading wings at you. The other bird may be tucked next to the bird while doing this.
 
I have had clients feel guilty about spending less time with a companion bird or felt that their bird was lonely. They go out and buy a second bird and end up in a situation similar to yours. You are not alone.
 
 
RE: Shoulder Rides
 
Most professional trainers completely discourage allowing any medium to larger parrot to shoulder ride, especially if maturity has set in. You place yourself at a lot of risk to facial injury, eye, or ear injury. Consider that a blue and gold macaw can bite at 1200psi, a green wing macaw at 2000 psi (an alligator is 3000psi). As much as we love our birds to be on our shoulders, this is an accident that is waiting to happen.
 
Learning to Observe:
It is important to know and understand the “anticedants” (the triggers for the behavior) that are triggering the behavior towards you. One of the best was to do this is to set up a video camera prior to working with your bird. Also get a notebook to record notes. Believe me, if that camera runs on a tripod or someone else can film, you have a chance to calm down after any negative reaction before you review the video. Allowing yourself the opportunity to observe the behavior from a different perspective can allow you to adjust what you do.
 
Assuming that you get your birds sexed, you are going to have serious decisions to make. If you do have a m/f pair, your choice now is to maintain them as a pair where your relationship will no longer be critical to them other than the bearer of food. Or, you can separate the birds and attempt to reestablish individual relationships. The bond drive between the birds may be a challenge for you to over come.
 
Training

No matter what your choice is, I highly recommend that you learn to clicker train your birds. It will be important to target train them and stick train the birds so the birds can be managed safely, assuming that you allow them to stay as a pair. Even aggressive birds can be trained using positive reinforcement and patience. Birds learn that it is more fun to interact than to be aggressive… The exception here though is the fact that you may have a bonded pair and the strategy will be more important for safe handling and management.
 
Go to www.yahoo.com/groups <http://www.yahoo.com/groups> and find the Bird-Click group. Join the group. We have a ton of training resources there.
 
Without observing the behaviors personally, I believe that you have some solid information here to help. Feel free to contact me if you have further questions.
 

Best Regards,
Scott Robins
www.scottrobinsedutainment.com
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