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Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

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a_mercer
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Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by a_mercer » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:59 pm

Hello! My name is Abbey. I have a green cheek conure, Eva, and I just got a lutino IRN named Adrian. I have only had her since Saturday so I know she isn't going to be magically tame and perfectly behaved but that is not the issue. The issue is that she is still hand feeding twice daily (her hatch date was April 26th) and doing great with that. However, all other interactions are proving very difficult. She will readily step up onto my hand with a cloth over it and will happily sit there being petted or eating millet. She doesn't seem to have much of an issue with being petted by my bare hand. When I offer her a bare hand to step up on, she will do so and sit for a couple seconds then begin biting very badly out of nowhere. I'm talking drawing blood, not letting go, leaving welts on my hands and wrist, etc. Based on all the research I did before purchasing and everything I have heard on another forum I belong to, this is unusual biting for such a young ringneck. I know the difference between a playful or curious bite and this is downright mean! When she bites, I do not jerk or make a noise (though it does make me cry sometimes) but I carefully put her down on the floor and turn away from her for about a minute. When I turn back, she is sitting right by me nudging my knee to be picked up again. When she steps up, I praise her and offer millet but rather than accepting the treat, she clamps onto my hand again. I am so stumped! Can anyone help? I don't want to raise her to always bite like this! :?:

MissK
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by MissK » Tue Jul 15, 2014 2:01 pm

Try holding a toy for her to bite and guiding her to it. Possibly a birdie-friendly bracelet might help?
-MissK

a_mercer
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by a_mercer » Tue Jul 15, 2014 2:07 pm

That has been suggested to me and I have tried distracting with a toy or millet but she seems to just dodge it and grab my hand :( she does enjoy millet but once she gets it in her head that she wants to bite, she just does it even though there is millet to eat!

MissK
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by MissK » Tue Jul 15, 2014 2:55 pm

Wow, that's sad! I can see how you would want to dissuade her. Is it possible there is anything about your hand making her uncomfortable? Some have suggested nail polish might inspire a bad reaction. Are you keeping that hand rock steady? Are you certain she is stepping up because she wanted to, not because you gave her a nudge?

My adult nibbles at my hand, and he sometimes gets carried away with this, and it leads to biting. I've pretty much decided he is not angry or afraid, because he has no reason to be angry and he is free to fly away at any time. I found that I can guide him away from biting with a distraction. Why does he do it? Heck if I know. I do note that he gets carried away with his investigation, and I think that is a reasonable explanation part of the time. Other times I just don't know. Maybe he is comfortable enough to not fly off, but still having reservations. I don't hold him much, so it could be he only needs practice. I'm not really into standing around with my hand forever in bird-holding position, though, so he isn't likely to practice much. :?
-MissK

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Donovan
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by Donovan » Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:05 pm

I think at your bird's age he is likely just experimenting and somehow decided he likes doing it.... try making your finger taste awful

a_mercer
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by a_mercer » Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:38 pm

MissK- I have heard that nail polish can present an issue but I don't wear polish at all. It's possible that she hasn't actually wanted to step up every time and only did when nudged but there have been other times where she seems eager to do it! I try to keep my hand very steady but each time I get more and more nervous. I'm afraid that is going to cause me to be too jumpy for her to want to perch.
Donovan- is vinegar safe for a bird? Because I figure that would taste terrible and I have it already!

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InTheAir
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by InTheAir » Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:17 pm

I had a similar experience, I think, when I first started wearing socks around my new bird this winter. She has sat on bare feet heaps and then one day she lands on my foot and it is covered in a rainbow striped sock. This is new and novel so she chews it, I peel off the sock and she stops chewing my foot, put sock back on and she sits on it and chews! I ended up putting the sock on my hand and playing "step up, reward, step down, reward" and gradually increasing the time she sits on the sock.

Useful rule: the strength of the reinforcer must outweigh the desirability of the behaviour you seek to modify.
It sounds like millet isn't as good as chewing skin. I don't use millet for training for a few reasons, including because my birds think it is a very low value treat. I usually use quite a high value reward to teach a new behaviour. I like my reinforcer to be one bite sized chunk of somthing, so i am not offering a handful and removing it after my bird takes a bite.

Another point that you may be doing already, I can't tell from your post, is asking for the behaviour without showing the reinforcer. Your bird must already have an idea of how to step up first. Training, rather than luring, has a few advantages in these situations. If my bird trusts that she will get a good treat, she will be focused on me delivering the goods (promptly) while she is sitting on my sock. I then focus her attention on stepping down. During this interaction she doesn't see what the reinforcer will be, she can't look at it and think "hey, that's a pellet out of my food dish, that is no where near as good as chewing your sock! I'll be chewing your sock until you make a better offer." :mrgreen: ok, I have no idea if that is her thought process at all, but that is my interpretation of a similiar situation I have seen. And it also meant the handler had to keep raising the stakes the whole time to eventually get the very simple target behaviour.

I hope the above is useful, I was going to elaborate further but I should really go to work!

Regards,

Claire

a_mercer
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by a_mercer » Tue Jul 15, 2014 5:00 pm

Claire, thank you for your input! I will start by explaining my use of millet and it's pretty simple. She won't eat anything else! Other than her formula, she seems to primarily eat millet right now. She picks a little at her food dish but the only thing that seems to really entice her is millet. I tried today with a piece of cantaloupe and was promptly met with a bite. I tried later with an apple slice, bitten again. Also various vegetables. Apparently she's a meat eater! Haha and by meat I mean a ME eater. I will continue to hunt for something that she finds to be a better treat but I guess it will unfortunately be trial and error which will involve many more bites!

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Donovan
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by Donovan » Tue Jul 15, 2014 5:27 pm

InTheAir wrote: I don't use millet for training for a few reasons, including because my birds think it is a very low value treat.
I have found a great training use for millet (sorry to divert from the appropriate subject). There is tension between my birds. They both love millet. So I use millet to keep them on the same perch. They're so caught up in eating millet that the one aggressor bird doesn't have time or desire to chase off the other bird.. and I only hold up one piece so they have to share.. In my mind i'm making baby steps towards creating an eventual bond between them.

it takes them a while to eat a good piece so the result is they are sitting together in close proximity and sharing in an experience.

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InTheAir
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by InTheAir » Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:43 pm

Try giving her new foods in her dish, I think at that age one should be offering a variety of different foods for the little one to try..
I got my birds a little older. One loved fruit and the other loved sunflower seeds.

a_mercer
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by a_mercer » Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:56 pm

What foods would you suggest? I put mixed vegetables in her dish every day and have offered cantaloupe and apple but she doesn't seem interested in those yet. She does seem to like green beans, but not more than my hand. What's sad is that she's just so cute but now I'm afraid to pick her up without a towel over my hand. She steps up eagerly and loves to be petted and scratched so I know she's not just this evil bird. I wish I could figure out what is provoking the bite to begin with! :cry:

MissK
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by MissK » Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:11 pm

Did you try nuts?
-MissK

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InTheAir
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by InTheAir » Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:59 pm

This is a pretty comprehensive list on suitable foods on this thread viewtopic.php?f=3&t=8078
I present vegetables in lots of different ways, on skewers, pegged to the side or roof of the cage, chopped, diced, finely chopped together or blended. Nila likes certain vegetables chopped certain ways, Sapphire is an indiscriminate little piglet (except she won't eat nuts or coloured pellets).

I have no idea about baby's, but I wouldn't think it would hurt to delay step up training until your bird is eating well and has some decided favourite foods, if she is happy to sit on a towel when you give her attention for now. At least you are getting a head start on towel training!

a_mercer
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by a_mercer » Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:51 pm

@MissK- I was advised by the place I bought her from not to put big things like peanuts in her food yet. However, I've tried with sunflower seeds as those are a favorite of my GCC. I think she's eaten 1 or 2.
@Intheair- thanks for the list! I'm on my phone now but will check that out tomorrow on the pc. I also like the idea of offering foods in a different manner besides just in a dish. I have heard that some birds are picky about the way it's chopped. So funny!

a_mercer
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by a_mercer » Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:52 pm

Oh and thank you also for the positive note on towel training! It's so tempting to offer my hand when she is being so adorable sitting with me...then it all goes horribly wrong! Hahaha

MissK
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by MissK » Thu Jul 17, 2014 5:25 am

Hi Abbey. Nuts, like the bigger seeds, are a frequent favourite. You can divide a nut with a knife or just break a bit off with your fingernail. You can offer some small bits in the feed or by letting the bird watch you place it in neutral territory. Once the bird gets a taste you may find you have an effective training treat.

The advantages of dividing your nut are many. The bird doesn't get an overly large piece of food before he can handle it, as your bird supplier suggested. The bird doesn't take a long time eating the treat, so the effectiveness in training is not diminished. The bird doesn't get "too much nut" in his diet. It's economical because one nut goes a long way.

Additionally, while peanuts are quite popular, they are not really nuts, and some might say there are more dietarily beneficial nuts to feed. Peanuts are, however, effective training treats. You can try pistachios (actually a seed), almonds, walnuts, or pecans (my bird's favourite)- all readily available- but ensure they don't have anything added to them such as salt or sugar or dyes. Read up on nuts and pick one to try.
-MissK

a_mercer
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by a_mercer » Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:55 am

Thank you, MissK! The bird store has a ton of different types so I'll probably pick up a few to try this weekend but I can let her sample peanuts in the mean time.

MissK
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by MissK » Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:04 am

You'll probably get a cleaner and less expensive product at the human grocery store. Just look out for any additives or preservatives.
-MissK

a_mercer
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by a_mercer » Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:17 am

Ah, okay. So as long as they are just plain, unsalted nuts, that would be okay? I was thinking of the bird store because I remembered them having a large selection but they are actually all shelled so that would be pointless anyway haha. Silly me.

SunniDai
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by SunniDai » Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:41 am

The nuts that are in the bags of seed or the ones that are sold in pet stores generally are "not for human consumption". If something isn't for human consumption, I'm not sure I'd want to feed them to my fids. I don't feed them anything that I would not at least try once :) So MissK is correct in saying that buying from a grocery store is best.
~Dana

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Donovan
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by Donovan » Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:17 pm

When something says it's not for human consuption they mean that it hasn't been saturated with preservatives..

So don't consider that label as being a complete negative.

MissK
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Re: Help! Severe biting from IRN baby

Post by MissK » Thu Jul 17, 2014 11:17 pm

Or it could be like the cattle they put in the dog food- the downers, the DOA, the drugged, the diseased. The pet food industry was built on transforming the waste from human food production into profit. In quite recent years our animals have gotten some options for healthier fare but, in my opinion, it's still too few and far between. I've done too much research to believe our birds got an automatic pass on this shoddy treatment. I'm sure there is some good stuff out there but, personally, I prefer to go carefully with human grade, recalling there is plenty of trash in the human food chain as well.

Sorry to be Debbie Downer. :(
-MissK

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