Parrot people!!! **NEED ADVICE!!!!**

Discussion in 'Caged Birds - Finches, Canaries, Cockatiels, Parro' started by Guitartists, Apr 21, 2008.

  1. Guitartists

    Guitartists Resistance is futile

    Mar 21, 2008
    My DH's friends have an african grey that is about 4 years old. They have had it since it was young, having purchased it from a breeder. It likes the wife, but is a biter when it comes to the husband and the boys. Apparently once it bit the husband trying to test him (you know how they are) and when he pulled back out of fear, it not only latched on, but got carried off with his arm and when he (the grey) released he (the grey) ended up smacking the wall decently hard. Ever since then, whenever anyone pulls away in fear he decides he wants to bite them.

    Now, to the advice part......

    They want to rehome their grey because they already have a macaw and she just doesn't have the time to work with him. My DH wants to get the bird for me.... I have ALWAYS wanted a grey!!!! But, I am wondering..... once this behavior starts, can it be broken of these bad habits??? Will time, patience and training win out, or will he forever be a biter? Has anyone here ever taken on something like this before? He is healthy. He has never been abused or neglected. He is just undersocialized and not very fond of men right now.

    Ok, I'm off to search on google for some more info. I am hoping you parrot people here on the BYC can give me some advice [​IMG]
  2. birdnutz

    birdnutz Songster

    Mar 6, 2007
    We bought a grey that finally bonded with me. He never did allow my DH to handle him. He was also under socialized,but with alot of love and attention he can become a nice member of the family. Greys tend to be 1 person birds or shall I say 1 sex birds,if he's partial to women,he'll probably stay that way. Since he's for you I don't see a problem with that. Just be patient with him and spoil the heck out of him. If you have more questions you can e-mail me. Lori
  3. jab91864

    jab91864 Songster

    Apr 3, 2007
    Northern Michigan
    Chances are the grey prefers the wife and views her as a mate/companion while all others are intruders. You stand a better chance of being favorite since you are female but that doesn't always hold true once it goes to a new situation.

    My grey dislikes everyone in the house but Doesn't matter that the others give treats etc... as long as they keep their distance they are fine.

    Yes once a bird gets a "reaction" that adds excitement and it will continue to trigger behaviors to continue.

    Putting the bird in a whole new setting can be overwhelming and stressful but can be very rewarding with patience. I would suggest giving the bird time to get comfortable before you try to make it your friend.

    Does the bird know the step up command, if so you are half way You might want to offer a wooden dowel/perch and use the step up command. I would then go to a small room that is quiet and work with the bird. Remember the cage is something that will make it territorial and they will defend that space by lunging. Keep the sessions limited at first to just a few minutes at a time.

    Talk to the bird in a calm , unexcited voice. Offer treats . Maybe use the bedroom and sit on the bed. Let the bird walk around the bed while you talk to it. Give it time and it will start to approach you for treats. Ask what the bird likes best, what it's "candy" is... the thing it will beg for that gives you an edge.

    You know you have reached the ultimate in success when the bird lets you flip it on it's back and rub it's tummy..... do not try this until you know they bird is secure and you are

    Best of luck and remember this is just my opinion and doesn't count as expert advice.

    Julie & Dobbie (my TAG = retirement
  4. tnkinhunting

    tnkinhunting Songster

    Feb 7, 2008
    East Tennessee
    I have a cag that I bought as a baby - hand reared at about 4 months of age. His name is Einstein and he sure is! But, he bites! Not all the time, but sometimes and he then says "ouch" or "owww" He doesn't bite real hard, but sometimes he does bruise.

    I never force anything on him including coming out of his cage. I open the door and if he wants out he steps up to the door and when I tell his "step up" he throws his foot up to come on out. Sometimes he just sits on the door and doesn't come out. Sometimes he escapes! He is good at door's - we have had to double fasten them. Now, my husband, sometimes he bites him sometimes not - he will not let anyone else handle him period! He has never, to my knowledge been mistreated, so that's just the way he is.

    Einstein is about 4 now and talks better than any grey I have ever seen - there is very little he cannot say or mimic - but he will not do it on command. He says a few words to us - "nite-nite" when we turn off the lite and shut the bird room door, and of course "step-up" that was his first word. Patience is the key and sitting beside the cage reading, talking to it, working on something. I am sure you can work with him and make a great pet out of him. But, if you own a parrot, you will get bitten! It happens! Severely? No, but pinched, and bruised bites happen. They climb with their beaks, if they think they are gonna fall, they grab with their beaks and sometimes they grab too hard! Hope that helps! I would never get rid of my "bud" even after he nips me! [​IMG]
  5. Guitartists

    Guitartists Resistance is futile

    Mar 21, 2008
    Thanx Lori and Julie! I have been googling and have come across some good articles and forums for greys and biting [​IMG] It's good to know that there is a good chance that it could work out! I am so excited! First my DH tells me we can build a coop and get more chickens and then he tells me he might be getting me an African Grey!!! it's like Christmas in April!!! [​IMG] This is going to be an exciting year!!!!! [​IMG]
  6. jab91864

    jab91864 Songster

    Apr 3, 2007
    Northern Michigan
    Dobbie is fabulous at nuts and bolts.... takes parts of the cage and playstand apart all the time...very frustrating.

    Talks when he wants to and comes in and out of the cage when he wants to. Doesn't care for going outside too much.... keeps looking up... insecurity and predator factor.

    The kids swear he calls them names, but I have never heard

    Julie [​IMG]
  7. Guitartists

    Guitartists Resistance is futile

    Mar 21, 2008
    Yes, this one an let itself out as well.

    tnkinhunting....... yeah, you certainly have to be prepared to take a few nips. [​IMG] I used to have a nanday years ago. It was one I got from a guy who's new wife hated it, so it never did bond with me. A guy I knew came over and they bonded instantly. I packed up all his stuff and sent him home with him that night. [​IMG] They were a perfect match. I am a bit nervous, as it has been some years and I am afraid I will be timid. I am going to really have to meditate so we don't get off on the wrong foot of me being scared and him knowing it!!!

    Does anyone know...worse case senario..... CAN it take my finger clean off???? Or will I just need stitches? [​IMG] Stitches I can handle..... severed finger might impact my life a bit too much [​IMG] [​IMG]
  8. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

    Mar 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    YES, you can definitely work with him!! I don't have time to type too much right now, but as soon as I get done with class, I will give you some tips. I've seen amazing things happen to nasty birds with just a little time and TLC.
  9. kees

    kees Songster

    Feb 5, 2008
    The parrot saw the wife as it's mate and probably became even more aggressive when the husband and boys were in the room if she was in the room at the same time. The husband could have been the primary caretaker, giving it food and water and cleaning the cage.
    When owning a parrot, never pull back your hand when it looks like it's going to bite because it will reinforce the biting behavior. One cannot hit or yell at the parrot either because the first will injure the bird, and the latter will make the parrot think, "Hey, look what I can get this human to do!" It's better to take the bite, no matter how much it hurts, and pull out a tail feather. It hurts the bird and takes a couple of months to grow back but makes a nice bookmark. With a really aggressive bird, you make have two or three bookmarks while the blood is running down your elbow.
    With parrots, use a laddering technique to help to train and socialize them. The words "up" and "down" are not used directionally, as we use them. When a parrot comes out of it's cage, say, "Up" and nudge it above it's feet. (By the way, you should always be higher than the parrot. If there is a playstand on top of the cage, take it down. If you notice, birds in the wild always try to go up. The dominant bird is the hightest. If it is higher than you, it will consider itself to be dominant and you're asking for trouble". If necessary, take the cage off the stand and put it on the floor.)
    Back to laddering... move away from the cage with an aggressive bird, to an area which is away from it's "domain". Depending on the bird, this doesn't always have to be done. Keeping the bird between waist and chest level, say, "Up..up..up..up.." and as you do so make it step on your alternating index fingers as you move them one above the other and then bring them down. This will tire the bird as you're bringing your fingers kind of in a circular motion up and down. Do this every day for five minutes, a couple of times a day, depending on the bird.
    All birds should have their primary feathers trimmed. Fan out the feathers and just take a pair of scissors and cut the primary feathers. Takes two minutes to do and five minutes to clean up. Look at a website to see how to do it. You can put the bird on the back of a chair so that you can fan out each wing to do it.
    It doesn't hurt the bird, in fact it's cruel not to do it because the bird will fly loose and probably get hurt and will not be trainable (and will definitely always try to be above you). Never let a parrot go on your shoulder or on your head. No earrings or dangly, flashy jewelry either.
    For training, take the bird out, "Up". When the bird is brought back to the cage and you put it in you say, "Down". The bird is on your hand and you will say "Fly" as you bring your arm up towards the ceiling and down. The parrot will flap it's wings and you'll repeat this exercise approximately ten times. Again, all of this depends on the bird, but no matter what the nature, you must always show the bird who is boss.
    Parrots, no matter how old, will have the mentality of a two year old child. They are very intelligent but despite their chronological age, you will always be dealing with a stubborn two year old.
    Some parrots prefer females. In families, they will always bond with one person more than another. Initially, mine bonded with me and then it changed. I don't think that the parrot will give you a problem but I would start by putting it's cage on the floor and lots of newspaper around it.
    Invest in manzanita wood branches that attach to the cage. It's not healthy for a bird to have perches that are all the same size. Also, buy toys that help them to satisfy their innate curiousity. There is a company that makes a metal cube that is held together by nuts and bolts. Each side is a different color. Put peanuts inside and let the parrot watch you do this. You'd be amazed at how intelligent they can be! Rotate their toys. The parrot will prefer toys that are the same color as their secondary colors. If it's an African grey, it will definitely like the color red more than other colors. But they need variety. No mirrors! The bird will think that it's another bird and there goes the bonding with you.
    You will have to file it's nails approximately once monthly. Put it on the back of a chair and get an emery board and just go one nail at a time. The parrot won't necessarily enjoy this but make sure that you give it a reward afterwards.
    Get a suction cup so that you can attach a bar in your bathtub and twice weekly fill a spray bottle with warm water and give your bird a mist bath until the bottle is empty or the bird is completely soaked. Then you can take a hair dryer on a warm, light setting and dry the bird. This makes the bird happy and will it to stay clean.
    Be mindful that some birds get ornery when new feathers are coming in, it's very painful for them and they may or may not want help getting the whitish shafts off. The spray baths will defintitely help at this point to soften everything.
    I hope that this helps to answer your question. African grays live approximately 70+ years and you need to know who will take care of your bird if surpasses you in age. It's a big commitment but they have been known to do incredible things. Please look up Dr. Irene Pepperberg and the work that she did with her African Gray, Alex, that recently passed.
    All the best,
  10. Guitartists

    Guitartists Resistance is futile

    Mar 21, 2008
    I remember Alex from some articles. It is what got me interested in Greys in the first place! [​IMG] Amazing birds!!!

    Thank you for all the info, very much helpful!! I said to my DH when he mentioned getting the bird... "You know this is a lifetime commitment, right?" I'm sure that one of the 4 kids would take him if he were to outlive us.... of course I do plan to live to be 100! [​IMG] Sooooooo, hopefully it won't matter [​IMG] [​IMG]

    That tail feather thing reminds me of a joke I heard once... wish I could remember how it goes [​IMG] It was pretty funny [​IMG]

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: