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Help! My green cheek has started to attack my girlfriend!


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#1 Vodka

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 12:31 PM

So, I have a bit of a frustrating situation on my hands.

My girlfriend adopted our green cheek, Robo, almost two years ago. He's almost three years old now. For the first year and a half, he stayed with my girlfriend and was nothing but sweet to both of us. When we moved in together, our new apartment wouldn't allow us to keep Robo so we had him stay with my parents for seven months. We still visited him on a regular basis and he seemed perfectly content.

Now, seven months later, we've moved in to a new apartment and have brought Robo back to live with us. He stays in the living room where I spend most of my time and we get along perfectly fine. He's a tad bit nippy from time to time with me, but never to a ridiculous point. My girlfriend, however, he has started to literally attack.

Whenever my girlfriend is on the couch, Robo will fly over to her and land on her lap. For the first ten minutes or so, he'll sit and let her pet him and act absolutely adorable. Then suddenly, out of the blue, he'll snap. So far, he's attacked her hand and left a rather impressive indent, charged at her face on a few occasions, and bit her lower lip hard enough twice to draw blood. It's definitely not playful and he definitely seems to be in attack mode when he does it. He's been back with us for almost three weeks now and this behavior has only gotten worse.

I understand and knew that there would be some sort of adjustment period, but this seems a little bit out of hand. Is there anything that we can do?

#2 Monica

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 08:39 PM

Sadly, sometimes parrots like to pick favorites and we can't always determine why. It could be the person who spends the most time with the bird, feeds them, cleans their cage, etc. Sometimes it's the complete opposite, and could be a person who completely ignores the bird, has nothing to do with the bird and isn't home often. A few birds are even known for changing favorites.

How is Robo with your girlfriend when you aren't around?


My first thoughts would be to teach Robo some tricks. Teaching parrots various trained behaviors is not just 'cheap parlor tricks' but more about learning how to communicate with your bird and keeping him entertained. If Robo learns a trick, he may be cued to perform the trick instead of biting, and he may learn that the trick receives more attention than biting does.

Keeping him busy with toys, foraging, exercise (flying between a person and a cage, chair, gym, etc) and baths may also help keep him worn out so he has less interest in acting out.


However, upon reading your message again, I'm wondering if your girlfriend might be doing something that Robo takes offence to or if he's simply getting tired of interacting with her? (keeping in mind that birds usually have a short attention span)

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#3 Lind

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 08:51 PM

Try to recognize the signs. He sounds like my Az from time to time - it does seem random! But there's always a reason. Az despises me using the keyboard or mouse or basically my hand using things - but only rarely. He'll puff up, tail flared, and lunge at me. Those bites are pretty painful! For a while he seemed to seek me out for no reason and run after me - comical but pretty sore! This is because the very first time he did it - it produced a strong reaction. In short I reinforced the behaviour and coninued to do so a few times as I wasn't used to the aggression and pain. I'd say "No!" before thinking and shout in pain etc. How I corrected it is I steeled myself when he seemed to come after my hand - I stayed still and silent when he bit me. It actually hurts so much less when you don't pull away! I didn't look at him at all and when my hand was free I promptly got up and left him. A few goes of this and he was never that aggressive again. :) The best thing you can do is avoid the behaviour but often it gets reinforced by our surprise and this needs corrected.

#4 Lind

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 08:54 PM

Also! Is he moulting? They get a little annoyed as this happens, having pins all over them. It's also easy to hurt them by knocking them or rubbing them the wrong way. :)

#5 Vodka

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 09:42 PM

As far as favorites go, I'd say Robo's definitely had to change. He used to be nothing but absolutely cuddly towards my girlfriend.

Generally, Robo tends to be better behaved when I'm around. He's only attacked her once with me in the room. When I'm not around, that's when the hardcore biting tends to occur. That being said, there are definite occasions where Robo bites me, but he's never caused more than a slight indention on my finger.

As for teaching him tricks, we've definitely been attempting that. He knows a few basic tricks as it is. I'll definitely try training him to do a trick instead of bite.

As for her doing anything that might cause offense to Robo, neither of us can think of anything that she does differently than I do. He just seems to snap with her. The time that I saw him attack, he was perfectly fine and when she offered him a kiss he puffed up and latched on to her lower lip, drawing blood. From what my girlfriend has told me, the times that he's attacked he's come to her on his own free will, snuggled up to her hand, and then suddenly lashed out. Though, I will say that latest attack occured today while I was at work. He puffed up and rushed at her hand as she was changing his food.

And to Lind, I've noticed certain things that set him off. Robo hates cardboard boxes and when people talk on the phone, for example... but with my girlfriend, I really don't recognize any signs other than he's happy one minute and angry the next. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, you know? I'll definitely have my girlfriend try the no reaction approach, though. And he's definitely not molting, I do know that much.

#6 dianaalrusty

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 12:33 AM

How was he with your parents? Have they come to visit since you've returned him home? I'm hoping this isn't the case, but he may not return to his jolly self with your girl friend. My experience is, no matter how hard she tires, he's not going to like her.

#7 green cheek conures

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 12:51 AM

Maby if she gave him treats before he bits(have er be the only one to give fav treat) and as for face or sholder he should be lower than your eyes till bonds are restablished is his cage up realy high that might be a factor too good luck .....birds are such intricate little creatures

#8 Vodka

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 03:25 AM

With my parents, he was fine. A bit nippy, but nothing completely unusual. They got along fine and he seemed to adapt to life with them quickly. They haven't come to visit him since he's returned home, sadly. I've thought that may be part of the problem myself, but convincing them to stop by is out of my hands. I'm definitely hoping that he'll come back around to my girlfriend. Technically speaking, she was the one who brought him into our lives and she was the one he first formed a bond with. To my girlfriend, it's like she's lost her baby.

And I'll suggest the giving treats idea. His cage isn't very high up at all. We're both taller than the cage when we stand.

Also, I've had a friend suggest clipping his wings may ease some aggression. I know this would definitely make him more manageable. Any opinions?

#9 Lind

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 12:22 PM

Don't wing clip him. It'll just make him more likely feel the need to bite as he can't get away.

Just from my own expirience I think he's doing what Az did to me, I think he's seeking her out as it's been reinforced. Just work on correcting that. :) It doesn't sound like he doesn't like your girlfriend to me.

#10 karen256

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 07:18 AM

I do think that a treat or other reward BEFORE he bites is a good idea.
If the biting is usually after 10 minutes, it could be that her attention is wandering and he's either biting to just get her attention, or because she is actually doing something that bothers him, like bumping a pinfeather.
So pay attention to the time... after maybe 7 or 8 minutes of cuddling, she could give him a treat for being good, offer him a 'potty break' on his cage, ect. and then pet him some more if he wants it.
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