Biting and screeching cockatiel

Submitted by fitchick1961 on Sat, 12/19/2015 - 23:14
I have an approximately 2 y\o cockatiel. Originally I bought him from a pet store for my mom. According to the store he or she, no idea which, had been hand raised and fed. They said the bird was only a few months old. There were 2, and the one I bought was friendly and allowed myself and my daughter to handle him. Since bringing him home, my mom has always cleaned the cage and changed his food and water daily. When we first got him, she also taught him to talk. In the first few months of having him, he was skittish, but eventually would come on my finger, and allowed me to scratch his head. He never allowed my mom to scratch him, but would go on her finger. Also in the first few months he broke a few blood feathers. I did some reading, and since I'm a nurse, my mom held him wrapped in a towel, and I used hemostats to remove broken feather with bulb intact, so he wouldn't bleed to death. We've had to do this maybe 4 times in 2 yrs. Problem is, he doesn't like my mom, he's attached himself to me. He screeches when I'm not around, and when I come home, and whenever he wants my attention. The other problem is with my mom, he will go to her, and even sit on her shoulder etc,but all of a sudden, he will bite her, really hard, on hand, in face, wherever he can reach. For no reason, she is very nice to him. I on the other hand do get aggravated with bird, when he won't be quiet, mostly. But he doesn't bite me, I can do almost anything to him, I don't mean hurt him, but I can grasp his beak, stroke his whole body, kiss him, even hold his body with my hand around him, and he rarely if ever bites me. I'm trying to stop the screeching, I work, my mom is home with him all day, every day. Also, don't know how to stop him biting my mom for no reason. I want to keep him, but this is making it very difficult. Jane

Birds will choose their favorites.  I wonder if your mom is scared of the cockatiel and he is sensing that and is  taking on "top bird" position.

 

If I were in your mom's position, I would interact as much as possible with the cockatiel but without giving him opportunities for biting. For this, you would need a training perch (T-Perch) with stand preferably. The T-Perch would allow your mom to take him out of his cage and carry him around the house without him  being able to bite her.  A small table top stand would allow him to be close to her, but safely on a stand - not on her  shoulders where he could bite her.

 

I would offer him treats but at a safe distance. Potentially place the treats on some a little plate and getting close enough for him to pick it off the plate, until your mom feels comfortable enough to give him treats from her  finger.

 

While she is doing that, I would recommend that YOU (his chosen mate) stay away from the cockatiel.  Cockatiels are naturally sociable - so in your absence, he may be willing to befriend her.

 

This exercise will hopefully result not only in your cockatiel  being more  friendly towards your mom, but also will help your mom feel more at ease around the cockatiel.  Her fears are part of the problem.  I understand that it is not fun to be bitten.  So avoid situations where a  bird can bite you,  but interact a lot with a bird at a safe distance.  They like it when you talk to them gently ... Once he begs to be preened on the back of the head, do so very slowly and carefully.  Prey animals, such as birds, will bite first and assess the level of threat later.  So FAST movements around them, will scare them and they will bite - even their bonded caretaker.  This may be another reason why he is biting.  Maybe your mother is moving her hands or arm and he is getting startled ...

 

It also never is a  good idea to be around a pet bird when one is nervous or stressed.  Birds will pick up on those feelings and get stressed themselves.  In nature, these birds are usually found in flocks and this is also so for safety reasons.  Some birds will feed and others will look out for any dangers.  Those birds that are feeding will quickly pick up on any excitement or fears by the "sentinal birds" (look out birds) and will either flee or display aggression - depending on where the danger is (perceived or real) - hence the bite ... Sib

Jane–try to limit the time as much as possible that you are around him. Have your mom give him lots of treats (when he isn't biting or behaving badly. You don't want to encourage bad behavior.) My parrotlet bites everyone but me whenever they try to get her out of the cage. She darts at the person's finger and is very territorial. She never does this to me because she has bonded with me, but anyone else she attacks. When I am around she is the sweetest, friendliest bird, but otherwise my mom gets bitten. We have gotten her to stop by saying loudly, "NO!" or "That's not nice!" 90% of the time she stops and we are able to get her out of the cage. Another thing we do is get her to step up on a pen or clothespin. Once the cockatiel stops biting, talk softly and give him treats. Avoid putting him on your shoulder until you regain trust.

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