Nanday Conure Forum

Message #7577. This is a followup to #7574.

Date:Wednesday October 5, 2011 7:43:04 pm MDT
Subject:Re: Nanday fearful/aggressive
Message:Did your bird used to be OK and then one day seemed to start this kind of behavior or has it been like this from the start?

If the bird has sustained any kind of trauma in the past which has lasted several minutes or several days he may have went into "prey mode". They can remain in that mode for a long time, even after the traumatic event has long since passed. They can panic if approached too directly by anyone. They may thrash about in their cages, bite out of fear, anything to avoid people and direct contact at all costs. This kind of fear-based phobic behavior often causes a parrot to feel threatened in any new situation, like being taken into a new room or being approached by someone wearing a hat or sunglasses, seeing a cell phone in someone's hand, etc. Did you take the bird to a groomer for a flight feather trim or a toe nail trim which may have been traumatic? How about someone coming home with a freshly manicured set of long red fingernails or some other change in their owner's appearance? How about a new wall hanging in view from the bird's cage? Any of these things could have been the cause. It can be difficult to resolve especially if the bird was not well socialized to begin with.

They're right, it can take a very long time to resolve this. Let me offer you some of my thoughts and tips.

A phobic parrot is much more likely to trust you if you let the bird initiate the contact. I wouldn't try to work with him to get him out of his cage. I would let him come out on his own. If the door doesn't open into a "porch" type, then perhaps you could move a table up to the cage and place some bits of food (no toys or anything scary, unless he already has favored toys which you can certainly use), anything to get the bird's interest and encourage him to come out on his own. Maybe you could sit at a far end of the table you might move up close to his cage, and you could be enjoying a plate of healthful fresh veggies and greens, maybe some warm brown rice with peas, or maybe some whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce (without onions or a lot of garlic). If he sees you eating and wants to have some too, let him come out to share your meal. Eating is a social event for birds. If he approaches your plate, don't pay him a lot of attention, just go about your snacking and see if he "steals" something from your plate and pulls it off in another direction. Don't make any fast movements to toss another nibble his way, let him come in for it.

Don't look at him in the eye, just watch him in your peripheral vision. Keep your head kind of down and move slowly and speak softly (as Bruce suggested also, I believe). Try not to tower over your bird when you approach the cage for cleaning/providing food/water. If you can't adjust his cage or make yourself seem any smaller, don't worry, just move slowly then. If your voice, even when speaking softly, upsets him, then just make pleasing little sounds. I know this will sound funny, but the kind of sound you might make when listening sympathetically to a friends' problems. Do you know what I mean? If any sound disturbs him, then don't make any sounds as you approach his cage.

As a side note about sounds, I had a very nippy little green cheek. LOL! I know that NOBODY has ever heard of THAT now, have they?? <smile> They're famous little nippers. Anyhow, I forgot I had the nippy one on me and I made a big sniff (inhale) by the bird's neck (to me they smell like a macaw) and I exhaled with a big "Ahhhhhhhhh" and said softly and lovingly "You smell just like a big macaw". Then I realized I had the little nippy one and she didn't bite me. Now she will run up and snuggle under my nose when I've got her and she'll lean hard into me. She will also make the sound that she must hear when I make that big inhale so close to her ear. Alright, back to your issue...

You can sit by your bird's cage and read, but you don't necessarily have to read to him aloud, but rather let him observe you and let him learn to anticipate your actions/reactions. Let him see you relaxed, near him without looking directly at him.

After 6 months or so, day after day, of these kinds of things, your bird should begin to see that you're not making a lot of demands on him and he should begin to learn to trust you. I say 6 months, but there is no way of knowing how much time this could take. Honestly, it coud take years. OK? This is a submissive way to earn your bird's trust. His trust is something that you cannot force him to give, as I'm sure you know. He has to willingly give his trust to you. So show him you're worth it with consistent behavior.

I know you say you've made mistakes in the past with this bird, but maybe you're being too hard on yourself. I know my husband has covered birds to give them a "time out" in the past, although that is something I never felt the need to do. But also know that there are times when a bird is just going to be loud and noisy. Mine are always noisy in the morning, to greet the day I suppose. They're noisy when company/stranger visits, at least initially. They're noisy as can be when I first walk through the door, happy that "momma" is home I hope <smile>. They're also kind of loud if they want to be covered for bedtime.

I have 7 conures here, many cockatiels, 2 pionus and a barraband. While the behaviors of the cockatiels and the barraband are nowhere near as challenging as the behaviors of the conures or the pionus can be, I can definitely say that a book on parrot behavior in general would probably help you a great deal. There are many good books out there and I will list a few below. Then of course the people on this site are always here to help.

Guide to Companion Parrot Behavior by Mattie Sue Athan

Surprisingly, this book I actually found online in its entirety on Google Books - Why Does My Parrot Do That, by Julie Rach Mancini. Can't beat that one - how about FREE!

My Parrot, My Friend: An Owner's Guide To Parrot Behavior

Companion Parrot Handbook by Sally Blanchard

Any of these books should be able to help provide you with additional insight and ideas on how to modify your bird's behavior. Often it starts with modifying YOUR behavior. <smile>

Be consistent and EXTREMEMLY patient. Good luck, and I hope some of this helps.

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