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Cage Protective or Losing it??!

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gigismom
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Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2015 6:10 pm

Cage Protective or Losing it??!

Post by gigismom » Wed Sep 02, 2015 6:25 pm

Hi, I have an almost three year old female IRN named GiGi that I have handfed from a baby. Long story short, within the last year, her behavior has changed DRAMATICALLY. She has become SO cage protective that I can no longer reach in to change her food and water, or to pick her up without her lunging and fly-hopping at me, mangling my hand! I currently have THREE CHUNKS taken out of my fingers and I am about to give up. (There have been no changes in diet or people or anything in our home, btw).

A year ago, when all of this started, I chalked it up to NESTING behavior and thought, well she is all grown up now and probably wants to mate?? Except, it would happen ALL YEAR around. :( I recently bought her another hand fed baby, as a friend, hoping it would calm her down. He seems to be male, but won't know for sure til next year. He is a love, named Blue. They have definitely bonded.

However, her behavior is worsening by the day. Only triggered by contact or coming near the cage. If I am able to get her out of the cage (which is always left open btw), and change rooms to where she cannot see it, she's like the ol' GiGi, accepting cuddles and petting and love. I can do anything to her outside her cage and she doesn't bite. But, if she sees her cage, she gets all anxious and eventually flies back to it, screaming. She'll go in and run to the bottom, where the newspaper is and pace back and forth angrily. She'll 'fly-jump', attacking if I get near an open door.

Its so depressing. She is a sweet bird, but has taken up this unacceptable behavior in the last year and I can't take much more. Please help. :(

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InTheAir
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Re: Cage Protective or Losing it??!

Post by InTheAir » Wed Sep 02, 2015 7:09 pm

Oh dear, that doesn't sound fun!

Obviously I don't know your whole situation, but there are a couple things that spring to mind. Does your in bird have a regular lights out time so she gets plenty of sleep? And what is her diet? How is she fed? These could be contributing factors to look into as well as addressing the behaviour aspect.
Will she take treats from you near or in the cage?

Your bird does not want you near the cage, so your mission is to change her association with you being near the cage. You want her to look forward to you approaching the cage because you will be bringing good stuff for her. Im afraid changing her food and water doesn't seem to count to parrots, they like more instant gratification ;)
First up, you can start by finding a safe way to deliver treats to her whenever you go near her cage. I really like having a spare coup cup that is easy to drop treats in to, in the cage but not too close to perches where the bird spends most of her time. This way one can drop a treat in the cup and walk off, without getting mauled. By doing this you are not rewarding aggression, you are providing an incentive for her to want you to come near her cage.
Make sure her favourite treats are not part of her normal diet, to make them extra valuable.

Try to avoid changing her dishes when she is near them, if you can. When my hen is in her cage and looking grumpy at me, I target her up to a perch away from the dish I'm changing and she gets given treats up there until I am done. At first I would have to keep up a steady stream of treats to get her to stay, but now she knows if she stays there she will get treats so I don't need to give her as many. This is called "stationing" if you want to internet search for a better explanation.

If you need more of an explanation or clarification let me know. Hopefully that is enough to get you started.
check out www.goodbirdinc.com She has a really good webinar on how to address aggressive behaviour.

gigismom
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2015 6:10 pm

Re: Cage Protective or Losing it??!

Post by gigismom » Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:02 pm

Thank you "In the Air" for replying.

She gets a mix of Zupreem fruit flavored pellets and sunburst sunflower free mix. I also give her a little oatmeal in the am, which she really seems to like. She WILL take a treat from me, once she sees that that is actually what I have in my hand. But, I have to be really careful and slow. She hates her pellets and is like a small child. She'll go through all the seed first...and leave the pellets. I blow away the shafts and put pellets back in. She will only eat them if she is starving! But, its been this way since day one. I have also tried separating the seed from pellets in different cups, but together or separate doesn't seem to matter much to her. If she could eat sunflower seeds all day long, she would, but that's all birds. Yes, one thought I've had is she is lunging at me because she's starving, because she won't eat her "good" food. But I'd feel guilty giving her just seeds. And, the breeder started her on Zupreem, which is why I continued with it. (She's healthy and not starving btw).

Unfortunately, after much blood and pain, I'm a little jerky when she lunges at me and she of course likes the reaction that she's gotten, giving her more excitement in doing so.

But, I like your idea about stationing. I will look it up. The cage is situated though, that she is never more than a fly-hop away from blitzing my hand, no matter WHERE I'd stick the treats.....but I will try. Do you think that changing the cage all together would help? Maybe she wouldn't feel like it was "hers" so much??

Thanks.:)))

MissK
Posts: 3006
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 3:46 pm
Location: Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.

Re: Cage Protective or Losing it??!

Post by MissK » Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:41 pm

Hi. I'm chipping in only to give my two cents on the Zupreem. You will probably find added sugar on the label of this, as well as the artificial colours. We went through some Zupreem on our way to the current pellet because it was the only one we tried that they would eat, even after much urging. Once they were eating the Zupreem I pulled a gradual switch on them to Higgins "In Tune", which has natural colours instead. I think it has less sugar as well, though I don't have a bag of Zupreem on me to compare, and it does have some sugar still in it. I like the "In Tune" better, but I am also giving them Mazuri, which has less good stuff in it, but is a plain brown pellet and available at our store. Once they are firm in eating that, I might be able to use it as a stepping stone to better pellets that happen to be brown, in addition to just creating the skill of eating plain brown pellets. I really try to stack the deck in their favour in case they end up in a Rescue one day, eating plain brown pellets. I might be overly concerned about their future, but I do want them to have every chance in the event we part.
-MissK

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InTheAir
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Re: Cage Protective or Losing it??!

Post by InTheAir » Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:47 pm

Hi again,

Changing the cage is no miracle solution, if you don't address the behaviour she will probably start defending a new cage once she settles in. But, bigger cages are always better in my opinion. It takes a few seconds longer to zoom across a big cage :lol:

I'm really confused by your comments about eating pellets... I stopped giving my girl any seed the moment I could see she had realised that pellets were edible. She will not eat coloured pellets at all though... she thinks they are not food. Both my birds love their pellets, but they also get a lot of veggies and some fruit. I suspect your birdy would rather eat her McSeeds than her healthies because they are freely available and high fat. It is kind of like giving me a choice between icream for dinner or tofu, if there is ice cream I'll eat that but if you only feed me healthy meals all week I'll enjoy them instead ;) Just ensure she is maintaining her weight. A good thing could be to give her pellets in the morning and a little seed in the evening.

I doubt she likes jerky reactions, they probably make her nervous and more defensive. Keep moving slowly so you have time to read and respond to her body language. There is no good reason to get bitten or to "not react" to getting bitten, there is nothing wrong with pulling your hand away to prevent bloodletting. Just try to avoid getting into a situation that leads her to bite you while you win her trust again (with nice treats).
Will she take treats from a spoon or cup to make you feel safer?

Also,if you find a way to make it really obvious you have a treat for her before she snaps into her not so rational aggressive phase can help.

MissK
Posts: 3006
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 3:46 pm
Location: Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.

Re: Cage Protective or Losing it??!

Post by MissK » Wed Sep 02, 2015 11:06 pm

If it helps, I can say that our treats (at least some of them) are stored in mason jars. Opening the mason jars makes a very distinctive noise, with the two-part lid, and that gives the whole household a heads-up that we're stepping into treat mode. I exploited this when I was trying to encourage Rocky to fly to me, and it worked well to get his attention - think of the classic cat coming to the electric can opener concept. OR, dropping a treat into an empty stainless steel cup really makes a distinctive sound.
-MissK

gigismom
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2015 6:10 pm

Re: Cage Protective or Losing it??!

Post by gigismom » Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:05 pm

Thanks Miss K and In the Air. I'll try to apply all the suggestions. Will stay in touch!;)

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