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Thread: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

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    I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    Hi all,

    I'm the guy who watched my girlfriend's cockatiel for 3 months last year, and I'm doing it again now since she's doing her touring job. I have a new set of problems with the bird, the noise level is fine now (although part of that is me just getting used to him lol), but there's times where he gets in moods where he's literally hyper aggressive with me, and I don't know how to deal with it. I just put him in the cage for the better for both of us.

    These aren't the usual cockatiel nibbles where they pretty much push you with their beak, this is literally biting and grabbing on the ear or lip, or whatever he can get a hold of. Probably close to drawing blood, and is usually followed by a bunch of cursing . Not only that, when I shoo him off my shoulder, he'll attempt to fly at me in a way that isn't friendly, like a dive bomb kind of attack? Which I find hilarious and usually laugh since that wouldn't be a wise strategy in the wild against something 1000 times your size lol.

    Anyway I'm nothing but nice to the bird, so I don't get the hostility. He's usually really sweet, but occasionally he gets in these 'moods', which sometimes happens after I take a shower or change my shirt. And no, I won't take 'not showering' as an option I do notice that over this past year, my girlfriend quit her other job, and has been spending much more time with the bird. He got so intensely bonded to her, that he's basically velcro to her. He used to fly to me a lot, but now only flies to her if she's in the room. If I'm in the room and she leaves the room, he'll scream until she shows up. Could this behavior be his way of saying 'where's my human? and you're not it?'.

    It's only been happening this time around. I can deal with noise, but constantly being dive bombed or bitten is not something I'll tolerate. My girlfriend gave me the option to give him to a birdsitter this time until she's back if he's being too much of a problem. Is this my best option? When he's in this mood I can't even dare to pet him, or heck, even trying to give him food triggers the defensive response. And as weird as he is, as much as he seems to hate me in this mood, he keeps flying to my shoulder. So he basically wants no part of me, but can't stay away from me. Though I end up having to put him back in the cage, since if he's on my shoulder he's in perfect striking distance of my ear or lip.

    I don't know what to do, I want to be supportive, but if this happens a lot, I really don't have the patience to deal with it. I love animals, but I can't deal with one that's constantly attacking me as if it hates me or something haha.

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    Re: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    My daughters conure does the same thing to her husband. Tikki will out of the blue just be attack bird and attack her poor husband. He also does it to me when I bird sit for her so sadly he is mostly in his cage when he is being taken care of by me. Its savage how bad some of his attacks are so it sounds just like your girlfriends cockatiel. I do let him out and give him his freedom at times but am always on the defence to keep him away from my face so no shoulder sitting for him. I never watched him for more then a week so dont know if perhaps the attacks would go away if I kept him for a longer time. I really am hoping your bird will learn to accept your girlfriend being gone and accept you and stop attacking. I doubt he will fully give up and be Mr. nice guy to you but it should get it least better so you might not fear him so much. Giving him treats and talking to him all the time might work but maybe not. Tikki bites me right after I give him a treat usually but I still try. I really do think your bird is taking his grief and stress out on you because he misses his "mom", your girlfriend and I really do hope it gets better. My daughters husband took to wearing gloves when he holds Tikki which at first Tikki hated but he is use to it now.
    Fly Free Boomer, we will forever love you.

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    Re: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    Oh boy!!!! No doubt about it...he is into his hormones! They love to dive bomb when they get frisky!! Biting....oh yes! Loud...oh yes!!! Most everything you describe signals it! There is not a lot that can be done about it. I suggest giving him at least 10 hours of sleep at night. I also know someone who takes their cockatiel into the vet and has a slight wing clip. That does help, because it slows them down, and seems to tamp down that dive bombing.

    It is about the time of the year for this to happen. Is the bird sitter an aviary type place where there are other birds. If so, and if it is a trusted place, and or if the caregiver is experienced with bird sitting, I do think that would be a good place for him. He will be happy with other birds, and it can take weeks for the hormones to calm down. Please keep us posted! I hope this info will be of help to you!
    Last edited by maxollie; 06-05-2019 at 11:42 AM.

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    Re: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    Thanks for the advice! Yeah it's summer time and the sun is coming up earlier than usual. Also, I usually have to leave for work at 530 in the morning (when I uncover his cage), so for him to get 12 hours of darkness, maybe he needs an earlier bedtime than 730ish?

    Yesterday he wouldn't stop threatening to bite me and dive bombing me when I was trying to get some studying done at my computer, so I got fed up with him and gave him an early bedtime (around 5:30pm)

    I was thinking of clipping the wings, but my gf is really adamant against it. She told me directly to not do that, and that she rather the bird stay with a sitter than get his wings clipped. I don't see what the deal is though, don't they grow back pretty fast? We do actually have someone who watched her bird for her, a family of 4 with kids who really like birds, and I think he enjoyed his stay there, they gave him a lot more attention than I have available (I work a full-time job, and taking a few college courses, so when I'm home I need a few hours a day to study).

    I hope the extra sleep helped him calm down! I've watched him for a week now, and every day except yesterday he was totally sweet, usually just sitting on my shoulder singing, and occasionally going to my hand for scratches. It's just that once in a while he gets into nightmare bird mode, and I don't usually know what to do other than put him back in the cage and give him an early bedtime. I tried in the past to work with him, but nothing, not even treats can break him out of that mood. So in that case I figured it'd be less stressful and frustrating for the both of us if I just put him away and let him 'sleep it off'.

    Anyway wish me luck!

    edit: Also, I noticed especially in the last couple days he's standing in front of his mirror, and he's rubbing against those perches almost nonstop when he's in the cage (me and the gf called it 'going to town' on his mirror ). Would it discourage that aggressive behavior if I removed it, or would it become worse if I did that?
    Last edited by el_nino; 06-05-2019 at 01:32 PM.

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    Re: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    Update: He seems to be his normal self today, but I had the weirdest hunch. Could it be he hates certain colors?

    I remember the first time he ever got hyper aggressive with me, I was trying on a new shirt and it was light grey. I usually wear dark colors (mostly black, it's my favorite color).

    Anyway I realized I was wearing that same grey shirt yesterday as that time he got nasty with me. Is that just coincidence or a real thing? If so it'll give me a good excuse to wear black all the time (my gf is always trying to get me to wear other colors but ehh, lol)

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    Re: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    Anything is possible with them! So, that shirt could be a problem for him. But also, they can be in a good mood one day, and the next, be back to the old behavior.

    My cockatiel totally does not like men's voices at all! When the TV is on, newscasters and commercials really push his buttons! He gets really loud, and keeps doing the wolf whistle!!!!

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    Re: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    The rubbing is due to his hormones being into full gear right now. This is normal, and quite common with males, and also some females. It is best to allow them whatever toy, or mirror, etc., they are using, to continue this behavior. I would not remove it, if it were me!

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    Re: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    Oh yeah, the rubbing is all about hormones and he is taking his hormonal aggressions out on you. I never heard colors signaled it but who knows what goes on in a birds head. Boomer was a huge biter to me one minute and the next he wanted to cuddle with me. I always had bitten fingers from him but honestly even though sometimes they brought blood to me I still never gave up on him and forgave him for biting me. Tikki is downright vicious like your tiel is at times. It is out of the blue and he attacks to hurt you. My daughter had to clip his wings his first year he came into his raging make hormones because her poor husband couldnt take it. He got bitten numerous times which left him bleeding and hurt. The final one was a fly, bite and fly away attack that left poor Coles cheek with a hole and lots of blood coming out of it. My daughter caught Tikki and clipped his wings. It stopped the fly by attacks but not his hormones.

    I agree with Ellen, let him do his do his thing by his mirror or soft toy. If he cannot as I called it when my daughter was young, rub rubbing, he will only get more aggressive. Its there release and boy do they need it sometimes. Never try to touch them when they are doing it because they go into full on attack mode.
    Fly Free Boomer, we will forever love you.

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    Re: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    I really admire your guys' patience haha. I would have to honestly say I'm not sure if i could deal with getting bit as much as you're describing without getting fed up haha. I'm at least glad that when he has these moods it seems to be temporary. Also yesterday, he was a little more nippy than usual, but not to the point he didn't eventually play nice and let me scratch his head (i don't mind a little bit of nipping, it's more the intent to harm / chesting up that bothers me. I'm the boss of the house and he needs to know that lol). Maybe the longer bed time helped? I did hear that some birds need 12-14 hours of dark to curb the hormones, and the day before he was being so bad that I covered him very early (around 5:30ish).

    I have to say birds are definitely the most challenging pets, but they can be really cute sometimes haha. I've owned mostly cats in my life and it's hard to get used to how high maintenance birds can be. Heck, even dogs are easy in comparison. Other than the walks, they're usually content with sitting next to you on the couch and napping all day. Birds want to be on you and demand constant attention I told my girlfriend that watching her bird is like watching a noisy kid that rarely ever listens, but is quicker than any adult i know. Though he is getting better at things with a little training, little cuts of millet spray seem to go a long way to getting him to do things
    Last edited by el_nino; 06-06-2019 at 12:25 PM.

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    Re: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    Too funny... I think of birds as little 2 years olds that just do not know how to handle their emotions or in a birds case, the bites. It is easy to forgive our birds because no way can you look into there cute little eyes and not forgive them. Truly they make us crazy but they sure do know how to make us smile.
    Fly Free Boomer, we will forever love you.

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    Re: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    Yes, they definitely are like the age of two! Like littke kids!! And, that is where they are stuck, in their bird lives. Cockatiels are very, very intelligent. And, I feel that caged birds are at a disadvantage because they cannot be like cockatiels in the wild, who live in flocks, and enjoy their days out in nature.

    But, for my own life, they are the best pet. It takes forever to learn and try to understand their qwirks, but in the end, they are the most beautiful of all creatures!

    Time and patience are on your side. Keeping the longer night hours will help. And also, feed no soft foods, or boiled eggs, or breads. All encourage hormones. Anything crunchy or fresh veggies and apples are fine. No cooked foods either. Also, try playing music on a CD p!ayer, or radio, or even cartoons on the TV. They seem two like the sound of all of those!

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    Re: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    Ah ok got it, I usually feed him some snacks while I'm also eating dinner (my gf says it helps the bonding process if we're eating together). Are oats and quinoa ok? I usually don't share the cooked stuff that I make, but I often have oats handy as well as wild rice / quinoa or sweet potatoes. I try to feed him greens sometimes, but he loses interest after a few nibbles. He goes crazy if he sees corn or potato chips, apparently some other bird sitter fed him this and you literally can't eat these without him going after the bag as if he hasn't eaten for years. If he's in the cage and he sees someone eating chips he'll scream. So I don't bother snacking on chips unless he's already sleeping

    It does seem like earlier bedtimes make a difference. Yesterday he seemed a little nippier than the day before, and he had a normal bedtime. So I'm trying with a bedtime for him around 645 or 7 instead of 730. Easier for me as well, more time to study

    Though is the 3.5 hours out of the cage on weekdays going to be enough for him? He seems happy, but when my gf is watching him, he usually has 8+ hours since she doesn't work a normal job. Her job is in the tourism industry so she travels for weeks / months at a time, but when she's not doing that, it's all free time to do as she sees fit. Pretty sweet gig haha. On the weekends he usually has almost all day out of the cage. I brew beer as a hobby, and he's usually hanging out on my shoulder while I'm brewing usually on Sat or Sundays. I sometimes have to put him in the cage while doing the mash process though, he thinks the grains I'm putting into scalding water is food and he almost flew into the kettle while I was doing that. Coulda been disastrous if I didnt block him He did give me a semi-angry chirp for not letting him fly into the kettle, but I was all like 'i just saved your butt, you should be thanking me for that!'
    Last edited by el_nino; 06-07-2019 at 10:29 AM.

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    Re: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    The oatmeal and quinoa are fine. Also, you can get unsalted dehydrated veggies, or get a dehydrator and make your own. Kale is a great veggie, because it is full if calcium. Also, you can feed shredded wheat in the small pieces,I get one that has bran and the shredded wheat in it. Also, grape nuts cereals are a hit with them. And interestingly, cockatiels like hot pepper seeds. You can get them in the condiment section in a bottle.

    It is best to feed foods that have very little salt and sugar. If you did have a food dehydrator, you could make many different veggies, including sweet potatos. Birds love crunchy foods.

    I would suggest you do keep him in cage when cooking, or washing dishes. They are fast, and can get into trouble fast! I once had a budgie that flew into the kitchen sink dish water. It was hot water. I grabbed him out of water, took a towel, dried him off, and held him in a small blanket to keep him warm for awhile. He did survive!

    Since your GF allowed him out of cage for 8 hours at a time, I do now understand why he was an unhappy camper. Cockatiels are birds that get used to a daily routine, and changing it in any way frustrates them, and then they will act out in various ways. I think 3.5 hours is a perfect out of cage time for him.
    Last edited by maxollie; 06-08-2019 at 09:55 AM.

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    Re: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    Here's an update, things have been going really well. Much better than I expected to I think he probably got used to the new routine. He seems happy even though I can only spend 2-3 hours with him a day.

    He's been back to his usual nice self, and I think his favorite part of the day is dinner time. I basically make him a small bowl of food (usually veggies and oatmeal) and we'll eat dinner together haha. I noticed since I've been giving him regular bedtimes around 7 he's calmed down a lot. Probably a lot of truth to that 12-14 hours a day of sleep needed. In any case the 7pm bedtime gives me a few hours of uninterrupted study time so it's a win win

    Also solved the problem about not being able to get him in the cage, I've only been feeding him millet as a reward for going back to the cage at bedtime, now he's been starting to expect it. When it comes close to 7pm he'll sometimes already fly to his cage and wait for his treat

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    Re: I don't know what to do sometimes. Advice?

    Awww!!! That is awesome news! I am super happy for you that he has calmed down, and is doing great! I love that you are eating together!! We will watch for updates!

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