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  1. #1
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    A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    Hello!

    The bird in question was found in august sitting on our lawn and chirping in a rather bad condition. He had one eye closed, loads of feathers missing and he had a broken foot as well:



    I took out a bowl of various seeds in order to lure him, and after jumping up to a branch he accepted the offering and settled down inside it as I took it indoors and put him along with the food bowl in an impromptu cage till we could find a better cage, and later take him to an avian vet. We had later on checked with several vets if anyone had lost a lovebird, but wherever he was from he had no owners searching for him. As to how he ended up in that condition, he must have escaped and gotten attacked by a predator and for a very long time he was very, very frightened and shy.

    Fast forward till now:



    and he's a beautiful and very healthy and active lovebird. He has a big cage with plenty of toys he play with, and try to get him new ones so he won't be bored. We have put him in the living room and he doesn't show any signs of shyness anymore and eats when I eat, ask for baths but do one objectionable thing - he bites till he draw blood, repeatedly.
    He was shy for a long time when I put my hands in the cage to clean up, refill this bowls etc.

    But nowadays he doesn't really mind, and sits on my hand sometimes if I have seeds in it and eat from it and even lets me pet him. But sometimes during feeding he becomes very vicious, and attack my hand and bites really hard - its not playful nibble or an attempt to hold onto my hand.
    It's very painful.

    And I try to tell him no in a not too loud voice, slowly moving my hand away so as not to frighten him. It's almost like he think I will take away his food when I do this, so his response is just to bite on harder and try to tear my flesh.
    But it's not just during feeding that he shows this behavior, sometimes he and I are just playing or bathing with my fingers lightly splashing the water (he refuses to bath otherwise).

    I have read advice like firmly holding the birds beak, or rapidly lowering the hand, but I am afraid that he will completely lose the trust he has slowly built up towards me, and revert back to how he was when we found him wild.

    Would be very grateful for any sort of help or advice I can get.
    Last edited by Lovebird_Darwin; 12-15-2009 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Realized I was a little unclear, his foot was broken and on its way to fuse whole, and healed up great

  2. #2
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    Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    First of all congratulations. Not many people would take a bird in such a situation and transform it to the bird in the second photo. Very few of us had ever had birds in such a bad condition and now you have what most of us own.

    As far as it concerns biting...It's a problem for sure. Have in mind that lovies are known to be nippy either as a part of simply misbehaving or due to deeper reasons. I think yours, after being left homeless and attacked heavily has some bad experiences.

    I am not an expert, but I think that holding the beak doesn't seem much of a solution to me. You should keep on discouraging the bird to bite. Take away the food (not starve it), leave the room slowly, cover the cage maybe. For any reason don't show to the bird that it can achieve what it wants in that way plus getting food. Don't move your hand immediately out (if you can take the pain), then it things it can achieve that. Most important be patient and wait also for additional suggestion from the forum...

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    Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    I wouldn't cover the cage or use the cage in any part of punishment, as the cage needs to be seen as a safe and secure place, not a place of punishment.

    Best way to stop biting is to ignore it and don't react, but not everyone can do that.

    Your the boss, make sure the bird realises that it's not acceptable. I had a small cage in the spare room, when the bird played up they were taken to the "naughty" cage, away from everyone, a time out cage if you would. That worked well. I also used to spray the bird with a mister when they bit, that helped alot aswell, but never in the face....oh and if you bird likes been misted, then not such a good idea haha.

    Personally, I think you just need to keep working on it. You only had him since August, and to get where you are now is a HUGE achievement and you should be very proud. The birds been through hell and back and you only know part of what has happened in his/her life, could be alot worse! Trust takes time to build up, especially considering what your little one has been through and the fact that it is a masked x peachface hybrid....masked can be pretty hardcore biters when they want to be, I got the scars to prove it. Totally avoid situations where he/she bites. If he bites when feeding on your hand, dont feed him on your hand. Take your time, be persistent and patient and it will all come good.

    Keep at it, your doing very well, good luck!

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    Brand New Egg ypogeios's Avatar
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    Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    Covering the bird in his/hers cage for a few minutes when he/she is overstimulated or biting is NOT a punishment. It is a time-out for the bird to calm down (as covering for sleep is done for some birds).It is exactly meant to be done in the cage that the bird considers as a nest (were it feels comfortable and has toys) as when a misbehaving kid is told to calm down and play with his toys in his/her room and not in an unknown environment, before resuming his/her activities.

    You can find excellent sources about parrot behavior, describing many similar problems and potential solutions DOs and DONTs.

    What I suggested (you can search the best suted solution to your bird) is not coming from my mind nor my short experience with birds, but for example from:

    Manual of Parrot Behavior by Dr. Andrew U. Luescher (very serious study from an animal behaviorist)
    and a more easy readable
    Why my bird does that? by Julie Rach Mancini

  5. #5
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    Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    Boomer was a biter bird and no matter how much we tried to make him not bite us he still always would bite. Especially when our hand was in his cage, then he would draw blood because his cage was his home and no one messed with his home. I agree with timeouts in the cage, it worked wonders with boomer because he would calm down while sitting in his cage and not be such a big butt head when he got to come back out. They know what "No" means so tell them "no biting" and put them in there cage and walk away for maybe 3 -5minutes and I know with boomer he usually was a better bird when he got back out. Just like my daughter when she got a timeout, boomer hated them and tried to be better afterwards.

    What a poor little bird in the first picture, seeing his foot look like that just is awful, what a awful time he must of had outside. I am so happy you found him, took him to the vet and then healed him all up. He looks like a different bird and he has to be just so happy to have found you.
    Fly Free Boomer, we will forever love you.

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    Brand New Egg ypogeios's Avatar
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    Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    and not be such a big butt head when he got to come back out
    hahaha

    They know what "No" means so tell them "no biting"
    This is also very important. Using consistently a forbiding word starts making some sense to them. It is a chain: It misbehaves, you use the usual word and apply some action (a short time out, stop playing with for 1-2 minutes, NEVER hit or push of course) and then you come back. Then he/she slowly understands that it is not ok to do it.

    As Deanna mentioned, this doesn't mean that he/she will stop doing it once and for all. Birds have unique personalities. But it can improve things a lot. I had budgies, which are much less nippy, more calmed down birds and with a weaker bite. Nevertheless, the seam principles applied to both species bring results.

    Good luck and be patient!

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    Arrow Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    Quote Originally Posted by ypogeios View Post
    Covering the bird in his/hers cage for a few minutes when he/she is overstimulated or biting is NOT a punishment. It is a time-out for the bird to calm down (as covering for sleep is done for some birds).It is exactly meant to be done in the cage that the bird considers as a nest (were it feels comfortable and has toys) as when a misbehaving kid is told to calm down and play with his toys in his/her room and not in an unknown environment, before resuming his/her activities.
    Your kids outside playing and he does something your not happy with, so you give him an ear full then bring him in and send him to his room. Of course he would see that as a punishment lol.

    I would of thought the bird would associate covering of the cage with sleeping. Otherwise, when it's time to sleep, the birds sitting there thinking, ahh, she'll come and uncover me in 5 mins, then I can jump out and bite her again!

    You might not see it as a punishment, but alot of birds would be spitting feathers

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    Brand New Egg ypogeios's Avatar
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    Arrow Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    You might not see it as a punishment, but alot of birds would be spitting feathers
    Well, first of all, what will be done in the end is both the owners choice and responsibility.

    I would of thought the bird would associate covering of the cage with sleeping. Otherwise, when it's time to sleep, the birds sitting there thinking, ahh, she'll come and uncover me in 5 mins, then I can jump out and bite her again!
    This is your personal guess and is not necessarily true for everybody else in the world.

    We (I mean various people in the forum) just express personal opinions and experiences, nothing very well or solidly established. As usual with behanioral problems and illnesses, both concerning people and animals, the most responsible suggestion in the end of the day is one which is supported by scientific facts, if available at all. Therefore it is my obligation to provide the owner with such info AND direct him/her to the source to be able to judge by him/herself since he/her will assume full responsibility.

    So, contrary to your belief - you have the right of course to express it, it is a research backed opinion that short time outs with the cage covered don't harm the bird and it can help in behavioral problems. Everybody else, including me, can make assumptions and wishful thinkings about potential solutions varying from rewarding the bird after a bite to shooting it with the gun.

    Your kids outside playing and he does something your not happy with, so you give him an ear full then bring him in and send him to his room. Of course he would see that as a punishment lol.
    This way of thinking indicates that, everything that would interrupt a kids misbehaving activity (from couching to spelling his name, blinking or breathing in a different way) would be a punishment...

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    Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    Ok, you lost me there with all the blinking and coughing bit...

    Each to their own
    Last edited by mask; 12-16-2009 at 08:46 AM.

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    Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    First of all I just want to say thanks for your input and opinions, keep it coming.
    He is in general a very biting bird, he likes to bite and tear up everything, so I keep that in mind and plan on having chewy things on my hand as I feed him so he won't turn to my fingers for that.
    And its interesting mask mentioned what sorta of lovebird he is, I searched and tried to figure out what in particular he was, and came to the conclusion that he's at least part peach-faced, but didn't really know what else he was. If anyone else have their own guess of what sort of hybrid he is I'd like to hear it.

  11. #11
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    Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    my guess would be black cheeked hybrird.
    To my eye the dark colour comes down a little far to be capped or fishers... although i suppose he could be a black masked cross. Although i think the beak would be a little less bright and more horn coloured... unless he is a baby.

    have you thought about maybe clicker training? bitey birds seem to respond quite well (something about running to bite the pointer... but easily trained with treats!). Wouldnt want to scare him tho as he's a little rescue and we dont really know where he is from and the background


    Thanks Lee for the adorable sig!

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    Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    Boomer just had timeouts when he was a really bad biter bird and he never hated to go back in his cage because it was used for not only good things but also them bad timeouts. If he was really a big butt and just wouldn't calm down then he would get covered up, always with the front open and this was the only thing that calmed him at times. I think his timeouts worked well with boomer because he understood just why he was going to his cage, because he was bad and needed a time out to calm down and think about his bad behaviour.

    I did the same thing to my daughter when she was young and time outs were the worst possible punishment for her too. Instead of going to her room and playing she would go to her room crying because she knew she did something wrong and her way of dealing with it was crying. Boomers was sitting there in his cage and not moving or cheeping, just sitting there. I think maybe if birds could cry he would have been just like my daughter did. Then when either my daughter or boomer got out of there room or cage both were always so much better. If timeouts work for children then they should work for the birds, they definitely helped boomer.

    Does your rescue bite you when out of the cage? Lots of birds will bite really hard when they are in there cage because it is there home and they are very protective of it. If he is coming towards you to bite you do you tell him "no" ? Some of the time they wont bite if you just tell them no but not always. They do seem to learn that no means to stop really fast and once he knows the word hopefully this will be enough to make him stop biting you.
    Fly Free Boomer, we will forever love you.

  13. #13
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    Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    You have given this bird lots of care and it shows. He is beautiful. Lovebirds are known to be cage territorial and spunky (translation: bites hard when it wants to). They are the biggest 'little parrot' around, with big personalities.

    If he was biting only when you have your hand in the cage I would say it is easier to get him out of the cage and do what you need to do, then put him back so neither of you have to deal with the situation.

    Since he is biting when you have your hand in the cage AND when he is out playing with you he could be trying to let you know that he is the Alpha bird, which of course is not desired behavior.

    I don't like the beak holding technique because it could harm them at most, and at the least it is showing that you are aggressive.

    If he is out of the cage, you can try the 'no' and time out method but be sure to be consistent or it is just going to confuse him.

    I used the 'no' and short time out technique on one of my female lovebirds who was very stubborn and it took a few months but it worked. I always have a radio on in the room except when they are sleeping, but during timeouts the radio was turned off, making it quiet and unsettling. I didn't need to cover the cage, but by ignoring her and having the room too quiet, she calmed down. Short time outs worked best, no longer than five minutes. Any longer and she would start playing with toys or sleep.

    For the males, (my males were less aggressive than the females) I would use distraction- substitute whatever they were biting on (such as your hand, fingers, toes, etc) with a safe stick that they can bite. I used a small lilac branch. It doesn't stop the biting but it directs their attention to something that they can chew on.

    Consistency and patience.

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    Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    Quote Originally Posted by pixibubbles View Post
    my guess would be black cheeked hybrird.
    To my eye the dark colour comes down a little far to be capped or fishers... although i suppose he could be a black masked cross. Although i think the beak would be a little less bright and more horn coloured... unless he is a baby.
    It's 100% not fischers, the black mask cancels that out. Black cheeked don't have a yellow breast, they are all green with a salmon coloured patch on the breast. Black cheeked hybrids would also be really small.

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    Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird

    i always thought the black cheek were any colour across the chest from pink, through rust to bright yellow. And he does look kinda tiny.

    Out of interest why do you say not fischers? personally i agree as the only dusty or dark faced fischers i've seen are usually very expensive breeders... plus the beak is very light... although that could be from the peachie bit.... and the eyering isnt as definate as in most masked hybrids i've seen...

    Also i know it's harder to tell in hybrids... especially coz he was in such bad condition... but i see hardly any browband in the first pic from august. That makes him pretty young right? Maybe 8-10 months or so now?


    Thanks Lee for the adorable sig!

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    Re: A very vicious, but poor, lovebird



    In green black-cheeked it's just a little tuff or salmon-orange colour. A blue version would be blue with white rather than green with salmon.

    Fischers should have no black on the face what so ever. Young birds sometimes have very faint black patches on the face as juveniles, but this should moult out. Any fischers that is over 1 year old and has any black on the face is not pure, it's basically a hybrid. There's so so so so so so so many hybrid fischers out there with black on the face due to a severe lack of selective breeding and people crossing species as they don't know the difference.



    You can see on this fischers, a clean, orange face that extends into the transitional zone in the breast. The back of the head and back of the neck is also orange, but it has a minimal amount of dark eumelanin present that makes it a rusty-olivey kind of colour. In blue fischers, all the orange is gone so the bird has a white head and face, extending down to the breast. The dark eumelanin is still present on the back of the head and neck, so you see a lightish grey colour here...just like Sammy. Sammy's a great example, her face is nice and clean white and she looks exactly as she is meant to look...both of her mutations (dark and blue) originated in Masked lovebirds, so alot of selective breeding has gone into producing such a stunning little bird.

    Black cheeked, fischers and masked all have bright red beaks, (in green birds) the colour of the birds beak we are talking about is somewhere inbetween it's 2 parents.

    Yeah I would say it's a young bird.

    stole the pics off google, credit to the respectful owners, please don't sue me, I'm broke as it is!

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