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Thread: Bird attitude

  1. #1
    Diana Egg's Cracking... Diana's Avatar
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    Bird attitude

    My family of birds - Shadow the Daddy, Pearl the Mama and Alpha & Bravo the babies are all alive and well. Everyone is very friendly with us human types except Shadow. He has never been interested in anything I had to offer except food and toys. Recently he has decided that I'm a threat whenever I get near the cage. When I remove their food and water dishes to replace them with clean ones, he tries to attack me. Today he flew at my hand and bit my finger so hard it drew blood. That surprised me (he's fast!) and I lost my grip on the food dish so some of it spilled on the floor of the cage. They like to graze down there anyway, but how am I going to keep them cleaned and fed if I get attacked?
    What should I do? I seem to remember that wearing a glove is not a good idea. I have acted calm and patient, using a soft loving voice. He thinks I'm a fraud. Maybe this whole problem is because I take the nestbox out every day to put clean newspapers in it - oh, and play with my sweet baby birds. It has to get cleaned often, or else they'd be ankle deep in poop by morning. Shadow is good with the babies, I guess. He feeds them often, as does Pearl, but neither one spends much other time in the box. I assume it's because they're getting so big and feathery. {21 & 18 days old}
    I am confident there will be useful advice. This group seems to always know what to do!

  2. #2
    Chick ducky's Avatar
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    Re: Bird attitude

    Both parents can get very protective, he just figures it's his job. But ouch!

    Do have have those little doors to slide the food dishes in? Or do you need to reach in the cage and hang a dish on the bars? I know my lovebird thinks it's a game to nail anyone but me slipping in a food dish. My husband has gotten really good at distracting him on the other side of the cage, then making a quick flip and stick with the food bowl. If you are actually reaching in it's harder. I would still think a distraction would work. I don't use my food doors in the tiels cage so I go in the cage to hang the dishes. Sometimes my male will get in a bite and when he gets that attitude I usually take a paper towel with me. I kind of do the bull fight move, sort of teasing him with the paper towel. Others might disagree and think it's mean or something, but it saves my fingers and the food and no one gets hurt.

    By now the parents won't spend that much time in the nest box. The chicks are too big to brood now so all they really need to tend to is feeding, and not as much of that either. I started putting a little bowl of cooked and finely chopped foods like wild rice and bean mix in the nest box. I read that you should offer soft foods like this as soon as they start to use their beaks a lot. He would play with that food for a long time, even hen he was just maybe 3 weeks old. I also made sure to give him time with his parents out on a surface with foods scattered around to forage. He learned very quickly to eat on his own by watching them. He was well on his way to being weaned at 4 weeks old. He is pretty much completely weaned now but he does still beg from dad every once in a while. I think it's more about attention than food though.

    Back to spending time in the nest box... my female started in with laying eggs again when they started spending more time out of the nest box! Imagine that! NO! not again! She is still laying even though I've been taking some pretty drastic measures to get her to stop. I think I might have her shut down now, as it has actually been a few days since she's laid.

    Good luck with your fingers. Someone else might have better advise but I have found distraction to work for me.

  3. #3
    Diana Egg's Cracking... Diana's Avatar
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    Re: Bird attitude

    I have 2 heavy bowls that I put food and water in. If I put food just in the little door dishes, they act like they can't find it. Am I doing wishful thinking, or is there a chance that when these babies are grown that Shadow will revert to his old self? It's not like he was my best friend to start with, but with him biting my sleeve when I brush against the cage, it's not pleasant.
    I keep thinking about how they say that we should try not to scare or intimidate them. Maybe he wouldn't connect the paper towel deal with my presence? I have a potholder that looks like a thick glove - tan in color that he might not be able to get his beak into, but it still looks like a hand. I'm so confused. Will he ever get comfortable with me?

    About laying eggs after the nestbox days have passed... I'd rather they didn't! I have been collecting the info shared here in preparation for that time.

  4. #4
    Pardon My Pearls Please Tailfeather Oh Mowsie's Avatar
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    Re: Bird attitude

    Hi Diana.

    Yep! Again, you've stumbled across a major "problem" many folks run across when their birds are in breeding mode. What happened to the sweet pet I had? Even if he wasn't the tamest bird to begin with, he's become "Godzilla-bird" in the six weeks that he's been in breeding mode.

    First of all, its NORMAL. It seems that males in particular, become very territorial and difficult. Silver, who I raised from the time he was 9 weeks old became a Dad this year. While not my "tamest" bird, he has never been "nasty" to me. Yet, while he was in "Dad" mode, I swear there were "two Silver's" in that cage. One was the sweet Silver I have always loved... begging for scritches and wanting his Mom to feed him crackers. The OTHER Silver was a butthead and if angry enough, he'd take it out on his mate, Apache. One night, he got so crappy I had to seperate him for a night and let him cool his jets. (Not something I'd recommend unless the situation is dire, but he was beating up on her pretty bad). All because he was mad that she came out of the cage for a while and wanted to "set her straight". He would challenge me sometimes, especially if I wanted to open up the nest box and have a looksie. There was the distraction technique, where my daughter would pretend to change a dish or something so he'd come down off the high perch and "charge her" so I could have access to the nest box OR, if he was in a bully mood, he'd challenge me if I was changing a dish. Me.. I know him well and I'd put him back in his place with a "look" and a firm voice. I wouldn't waver in determination, even when he was coming at me for having to take Apache out of the cage for weighing, etc. That seemed to set him off the most.. removing his precious henny. Once, he jumped on the back of my hand and was just about to bite the crud out of me when I gave him the evil eye... Flicked him off and said "Don't you DARE bite me boyo!"

    The thing is, if you are afraid of them, they'll sense your fear and it empowers them. He's GOING to be aggressive. There's nothing you can do to fix that right now. Its his instinct. What you can do is prove to be a worthy advesary and never do anything to hurt him or his nest.. and you may anger him.. but he'll guard you with a sense of wary trust. I used to get the "eye" from Silver as I went about my duties, but I always explained things to him. "Now Silver, I know you hate this, but your cage is NASTY so Mom needs to clean it. Don't give me that look. I'm not gonna hurt you." Etc... as I was moving about. Sometimes he was good and sometimes he'd try to sneak one in on me. You've just got to prepare yourself for it and do things to prevent it. Tickle the bars on the opposite side of the cage to distract him... Toss a sprig of millet in there to occupy him, etc.

    The GOOD news is, that he will snap out of it. He may be more protective of his henny from now on, but this horrible hormonal phase will pass once the nest box is removed and the chicks fledge. My vet assurred me of it, and she was absolutely right. Silver is now back to being Silver.. as stubborn and dominant as ever, but not a hormonally charged nutcase.
    Visit Apache, Neo, Silver, Taxi, Tieka, Trinny, Buzz, Tiggy, Paris, Persephone & Hektor at Nikkie's Cockatiels More of what the flock is up too at their blog. Tiel Tales
    "Somewhere out there
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    Prayers for Paris- Please come home!

  5. #5
    Banned Tailfeather Squawk and Howl's Avatar
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    Re: Bird attitude

    yeah, i echo the "it's normal". one thing you can do is make it a two person operation. one person distracts shadow away from the door opening while you quickly and swiftly get what you need to get...

  6. #6
    Diana Egg's Cracking... Diana's Avatar
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    Re: Bird attitude

    So I do distraction to service the cage - I get that. But... after all this hormonal stuff has passed, is there any chance I would be able to get him tamer than he was before it started? I mean, I grew up with a cockatiel that hated fingers and he never got over it. This bird deserves to learn that 'the use of fingers is not the root of all evil'. It would be nice if he was interested in coming out of the cage and exploring. I couldn't let all 4 out at once unless both the cats were closed in another room, but 1 or 2 at a time would be fun. I'm going to try to get Shadow to forgive me for existing. (but not yet)

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    Chick ducky's Avatar
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    Re: Bird attitude

    I think that sure, you can get shadow tamer than before he started, but it depends on his background and how much time you are willing and able to give his training. Didn't you say earlier that you recently acquired this pair? From a friend or something? What was their background before you? Some birds are easier to tame than others. I think they will all improve with effort, but some birds will never be bonded and cuddly. Shadow also has a mate, which might make it harder for him to bond to people like a single bird would.

    My male tiel charlie... which you have seen pics and stories in my baby thread is a rescue. When I got him he was terrified of people in general and terribly cagebound. I began working with him after I had him for about a month. First I lugged his cage to where ever I was sitting so he could be near me, I ate meals next to his cage, I did everything I could next to him. I kept a defensive position, not looking him in the eye most of this time. Then I progressed to just putting my hand near him... then I would spend hours in a day just laying on my bed and letting him be near me outside his cage... and on and on. The point is that it can be a very slow process and take a huge amount of time depending on the bird and what he's been through. I worked on charlie for over 2 years before I just decided that he would rather be left alone than forced into the relationship I wanted with him. He has come a huge long way with us, but still would rather admire us from a distance We all love charlie to death and he is such a unique and special bird, but I know that he will always hate fingers and never get over it. I just accept that part about him.

    Sorry for all my long stories. Just trying to point out that no effort is wasted and any bird will improve with love and care. Just don't get your heart set on a transformation into a sweet cuddly bird, and if you do get that, then what a bonus! We just love our birds for who they are.

  8. #8
    Brand New Egg TieDyeTiel's Avatar
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    Re: Bird attitude

    Hmmm, my male Has been agressive to me ever since we got a female (we thought she was a he). He'd always been a daddy's boy anyway, prefering my boyfriend who had been out of work since we bought him about 2 years ago. Since we got her Hideki has taken to dive bombing my head. He only really bit me once and found himself in a cage the rest of the night. That's when I realized the problem was that our new little lutino was a female, and not a male as we thought. He was trying to protect her.

    So, anyway, now we have babies. At first while the egg laying was going on Hideki was fine with me, he even preened my hair a few times, but now that the babies are hatched he comes to me for food, but if I get near that cage he's after me in a heartbeat. When my boyfriend is home I have him do all the work at the cage (cleaning, feeding, water changing, etc) but sometimes I need to get them fresh food or water when he's not here. Since we leave the cage open I can feed him outside the cage. I've taken to wearing a baseball cap (something he associates with 'daddy', and if he runs at me I lower my head and he flys at the hat. Sometimes he lands on it and just sits there, kinda confused. That probably doesn't help you much as your bird is going for your hands and not your head, but I thought I'd share.

    The important thing is that when I'm accross the room, away from the cage and Hideki comes out to let Sugar take over the sitting duties he'll sit in my lap and nibble food off my plate, or even better he'll snuggle with my boyfriend and sing like his old self before he got a ball and chain. It's pretty cool and gives me hope that we might have our sweet talker back again soon. So, yes, I do think that's possible.

  9. #9
    Diana Egg's Cracking... Diana's Avatar
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    Re: Bird attitude

    Shadow and his brother were born under a bed. The parents had free run of the apartment, and decided that since all the previous 'nests' kept disappearing, then they would be sneaky. But babies are always welcome, and they were treated with much love, but two adults with full time jobs and one small child... not extra time to make finger tame, I guess. I wasn't there.
    To add the current family history, when the small child started preschool, a bird was found front of the school. "A wild parrot who can't fly!" was the report. So this same woman went out and found Pearl. A small, very tame bird that willingly sat on fingers or shoulder. So she was judged to be 'hand fed'. And came home to live with the other birds. When she and the one we named Shadow bonded, they got their own cage. They had been mating and laying eggs for a couple of years before I got them. I couldn't stand the idea of just removing the eggs when they were so determined! So here we are. 2 babies and a very protective dad.
    Maybe I'll just hope he follows the plan and returns to his old self.

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