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My Best Friend Turned Evil


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#1 Dwiggy

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 02:03 PM

Hi Everyone,

I have a major issue with my best friend Zipper.  I was hoping someone here could give me some advice.

 

Background info:

My little man Zipper used to be a little peach.  He'd sit on my shoulder and just ruffle up.  Everyday after work he needed to preen my eyebrows or he'd be upset.  Just a pleasure to call this little guy my best friend.

 

Now my fiance and I have bought our first home.  So the change of scenery seemed to change him too. First we kept him in a smaller cage (the original cage he had when we adopted him), just for ease of travel, to clean his big cage thoroughly, to make sure he was safe during the move.  He stayed in the small cage for two days, but I made sure to take him out constantly to make sure he was comfortable.  (BTW- his wings have never been clipped).  He also does not respond well to changing things in his cage.  He fears new toys, so we make sure to do these things gradual or while he is in a different room.  We thought the new house would be better for him, the living room is bright and the old house it was kind of dark and dingy.

 

His attitude seemed to change when I bought some new gear for his cage, such as ladders, perches, and toys.  Some of his older perches are dirty so I figured with the new house, he could get some new things too.  He saw me messing with these things and flew over and chomped me harder than he ever has before.

 

And now since then, he doesn't let me near his cage.  If he is out on his perch and I stand up from the couch he will fly at me silently nipping at my face. One of these times he startled me and I accidentally swatted him.  If i manage to get him to step up (he is trained to do so and used to do it flawlessly), he will chomp my fingers and knuckles drawing blood and taking chunks of skin off.  He does a low "nasal" sound when on my shoulder right before he bites my neck or at my face.  Very unsettling and upsetting.  He does not do this with my fiance, even though I used to be his "chosen" one and didn't care for her.  Now he hates me and still just doesn't care about her.

 

Is there something I can do to change his behaviour?  I've been trying the towel trick, wrap him up and try to calm him down, but all he does is viciously attack the towel.  I've been trying to use a perch to make him step up, but he crawls towards my hands to bite them or he'll just fly at my face.  I also have been doing some bonding activities like have him in the shower (which he used to love) and have him with me when I prepare his vegetables (which my fiance used to do the night before), but nothing is working.  He just seems upset, scared, aggressive with me.  Nowadays his outside of the cage time has diminished and I have just about 0 quality time with him.

 

Thank you for anyone who has read the whole story and can lend me some advice.



#2 msdani1981

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 02:41 PM

If he's biting you, don't let him on your shoulder.  Being on your shoulder is a privilege, not a right.

 

Also, I know you said he's never been clipped but doing so may change his attitude.  When my cockatiel starts getting bossy (won't step up, biting, etc.) that's the first thing I do and his attitude changes almost immediately...after a period of sulking. :) I would give it a few days of rebuilding his trust before you clip him, because chances are he'll calm down in a few days.  And even if you do clip him, the feathers will grow back.

 

You may also have to go back to square one, to build his trust again.  Sit by his cage, talking softly.  Offer him treats through the bars.  Tell him that you love him very much and are sorry that you changed his home and routine, but that it will be a better change.  It's amazing how much they understand.

 

You're being punished for upsetting him.  Parrots are VERY good at punishing us parronts. :)

 

Good luck, and let us know how things are going. :)



#3 easttex

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 02:41 PM

He sounds like one teed off little bird. Poor guy, he's been through quite a few changes in pretty short order. So many things have happened that he's had no choice in and he doesn't trust you. I think you need to slow things down.

I would try going for a fresh start with Ziggy. Seriously, treat him as you would a bird you just brought into your home for the first time. Leave him in his cage and sit as close as he will allow, doing quiet activities and just letting him watch you for a while. Talk gently to him. I'd let this go on for days, at least, but after some time, if he's calm, open up the cage and let him come out. Don't force him out. Let him tell you when he's ready. In fact, try not to force him to do anything, as that will likely backfire at this point. He needs to have nothing but positive interactions with you right now, and that will probably mean limited physical contact for a while.

That's my suggestion. I hope you can get things back on track with him. It sounds like everyone is unhappy.

#4 Bene_Gesserit

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 03:21 PM

How old is your baby?  I have two thoughts: one is that he's hit puberty and being a grouch (this seems to happen a lot) and two, it's spring/summer and birds get hormonal and grouchy.



#5 easttex

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 03:23 PM

Sorry, I got his name wrong - Zipper!

#6 Dwiggy

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 06:17 PM

He is 10. I adopted him when he was 3 and have had him for 7 years.  We moved once before and he was fine, from a dark basement apartment to a townhouse.  This move just seemed to change him.

 

Bene, usually I can tell when he's hormonal as he starts getting a bit "uppity" on my shoulder, or when I pet him.  Usually putting him in the cage and having some quiet time settles him down.  In fact he has been rubbing a bit more often than he usually has, so maybe it could be some sort of sexual aggression, which has been amplified with all of these life changes, I don't know?  Territorial with his cage with the move because he doesn't want anything else to be messed with?  Lots of things that it could be.  But I don't know how to fix them either.

 

Easttex, you make a good point about starting over.  I was going to give him a week of being cage-bound and give him treats through the bars and a spritz shower every couple days (he loves it and his skin gets dry quick in Ontario humidity in the summer.

 

I was also going to take him to a vet incase it is something else.


Oh and Easttex, whenever he is in his cage he looks calm and normal.  Small chirps trying to give kisses through the bars.  Playing with his toys or carrying his green beans around and being a goof.  The second I open up his top perch is when a switch gets flipped and he goes for my face.  Not sure if that's relevant.



#7 easttex

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 05:34 AM

I think it's never a bad idea to rule out physical causes, and having a vet check is wise. If you have a good avian vet, they may be able to give you some good advice on the behavior, too. It's hard to see inside their heads, but I would guess Zipper needs time to process the changes from inside the safety of his own territory. I know it's frustrating for you to make all these upgrades that you think will improve his quality of life only to have him reject everything, including you, but they do like their routines. I often think about how hard it's been for Peppy, my recent adoptee. He went from a home of 21 years to a relative who couldn't be rid of him fast enough, to a transporter for a night, to a wild bird rehabber for two weeks, and finally to me. His little head must be spinning, wondering what's next. He's been with me just over a month now, and I think the real Peppy is starting to emerge. :)

#8 Dwiggy

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 04:25 PM

Thanks for the advice.

 

So far I've had him cage bound for the last couple of days.  Making sure to be overly enthusiastic when approaching his cage, making sure lots of treats are near by to reward him being nice.  It seems to be working pretty good, this morning and right after work I took him out for a few minutes and he's being a sweet little guy again.  I'll continue keeping him in his cage for the rest of the week and taking him out for brief periods and making sure I go over the top with how great he's behaving to make sure he knows he's being good.  Phew!  Lets hope he stays this way, I need my little man more than he needs me apparently!



#9 msdani1981

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 05:10 PM

So glad things are going better! :)



#10 easttex

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 05:12 AM

It sounds like you're getting things back on track. What a relief for both of you! I imagine you're very bit as important to Zipper as he is to you. :)