Breaking point please help :’(

Char96

Regular Member
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Hello! Thankyou for reading this it’s going to be a long post I’m afraid but better to be detailed as I’m literally at breaking point in what else I can do :(
So I used to have an African grey called Milo, sweetest bird I ever had. Milo passed away last year unfortunately. Few months later an opportunity to own another African grey came up, I was crying every night missing my boy so thought I needed another little soul to give my love and care to. So we got Maximus a 16week old African grey. He was adorable, hand reared and super friendly. For the first month or so he would cuddle into us and when he learnt to fly he would fly to our hand on command. Time went on. Max started to fly loops round the room screaming, lunging and swooping at peoples heads and it got too much. He hurt my mothers head when she came to visit and our advice was to get him clipped by the vet. I feel this was our first mistake. He adapted pretty well, and we provided different stands and ladders so he could climb around the house if we didn’t physically help him up. However when he does have his first moult I would never ever clip him again it was instant regret taking away his freedom like that. It’s only myself and my husband who live here with max. Last three months(ish) he’s taken a massive disliking to me, I’d say everyday gets worse. He adores my husband. I know parrots can bond to one person but we need to teach max to love/behave for us both like he did before. My actions towards him have not changed. His routine has not changed I try to keep the same routine for him and my life revolves around him 😂. I’m the one who gets up an hour before work to wake him up. He doesn’t scream or bite when I take him out first thing. I take him through with me to get his food and water sorted in the kitchen and get myself ready for work. When it comes to putting him back in I ask him to step up and he can see the treat awaits him if he does as he’s told. He’ll scream at me and bite hard on my hand. I firmly say NO and give him a stern look, pause then continue. When he’s back in I give him a cashew but and head off to work. When I get in I sort out his food and water again and offer him out the cage. Sometimes he comes out no bother and sometimes he’ll scream and bite so I leave him in there. He’s never home alone for more than 4 hours as sometimes my husband finishes work early but I’m always back just after 2pm each day. When he’s out the cage I try to interact and offer him toys and he’ll pay no attention to me and go off and do his own thing. Milo would always wanna be with us max is the opposite no matter how much I try lure him he’ll never stay. I’ve learnt not to compare Milo with max as I did before because I know just like dogs, no two are the same personalities. I sit on the side of the sofa closest to max and I make sure when I eat my tea I put in some more food/snack for him so we can eat together which he usually does. If max does come near me he just constantly looks at my hands as he knows I’ll try get him near me with treats and if I have none he’ll climb up his cage/or stand away from Me. My husband has tried to ignore him and leave me to try be the main figure in max’a life to try get him to warm back to me a bit but it’s not working. I used to be able to give his head a scratch in the evenings and now if I put my hand near him his eyes flash and he lunges or he’ll tilt his head and lead me into false hope that I can give him a stroke then his eyes flash and bam I get bit. I’ve tried training toys to give us a different bonding time but he just doesn’t click with any of it and gets frustrated with me. I also tried clicker training and it’s made no difference as my husband never did it so it only lasted a month of me trying it and max still not grasping when he did something good he got a click and a treat.It’s putting a stain on our relationship and really putting me down. I spend hours reading things and trying suggestions but nothing works. I alter my entire life to try make him like me and it’s not working. I don’t want to rehome him, he’s just under a year old and I would never forgive myself and feel I’ve let him down. I love him even though he hates me I want to make it work and not live with this feeling of what have I got myself into for the next 50years :( I can’t afford a parrot behaviourist, I’ve enquired and it’s just not an option right now. I’m really hoping someone has a suggestion gem that I’ve not come across and gives me hope that it’s a phase and he’ll eventually just come around as he gets older.
Yet again, sorry for the rant but I feel I haven’t even touched the surface :(
 

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
Hello and Welcome, First of all I am sorry you lost your bird Milo. I do understand just how frustrated you must be feeing, but you cannot give up on this lad, How old is He? now I have Five greys each are so different so you are correct in saying no two birds are the same and this is especially true with greys. I am so pleased you will not be having his wings clipped again, What I will say is greys go through stages when it comes to whom they prefer but in the first five years there no 1 human can change more than once. your other half is correct in allowing you to be associated with the good things and stepping back a little but its not so much you doing what he likes but trying not to do things your grey fills unhappy with. this alone is not so easy as it sounds as you may think you are doing things he likes but to your bird you may be pushing him closer. some times its better just to carry on being yourself and just acting relaxed as this will help him settle around you. in very few cases it's a parrot behaviorist that is needed as much as some one who can guide you and your husband to gain the trust on even terms with your grey.
 

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
I will Tag @Roz for her guidance but if you can answer a few questions this may help us be able to guide you.

How old is your grey?
How old was he when he joined your home?
How long ago did he start to change his preferred person
you have said you have tried clicker training is this also with stick training?
Are you in the UK?
 

Roz

Regular Member
I'm sorry you are going through this. Glad though you are going to let his wings grow out, since clipped wings can produce more behaviour problems. Most babies are pretty pliable behaviour wise which is why he was cuddly in the first month or so.

It sounds like you are in a downward spiral at the moment. I think concentrate on the time when he behaves perfectly well with you... ie. first thing in the morning. You are obviously alone together (if he likes hubby, he may behave worse when he is in the room). This is your time to make friends with him. Have fun here.
When it comes to putting him back in I ask him to step up and he can see the treat awaits him if he does as he’s told. He’ll scream at me and bite hard on my hand. I firmly say NO and give him a stern look, pause then continue. When he’s back in I give him a cashew but and head off to work.
Ok, now it goes a little pear shaped. Think forward here. Why doesn't he want to go back into the cage? It is obviously more reinforcing for him to be out. How can you make it more reinforcing for him to go in? It sounds like you put him in and immediately leave the house. Can you work in some extra time to sit and talk and play with him through the cage bars after he goes in? The treat alone is not reinforcing enough... he knows as soon as he goes in, the door shuts and off you go. Does he eat his breakfast in his cage? A waiting food bowl could be extra reinforcement... to give him something to do when you have gone. Later when he's calmer about going back in you could even teach him to target through the cage bars. Make it fun to go back in. To get him back in you could also use a process called behavioural momentum. That is reinforcing a few other behaviours first... getting a pace and momentum going.... having him do this, that, then put him in before he can even think about it. When you aren't in a hurry to get him back in you could practice getting him to go into the cage, reinforcing the step down, but leaving the cage door open so that he can come right back out again. That way he'll learn that going in doesn't always mean the cage door closes.

There is a lot actually happening above. You are also inadvertently pairing yourself with an aversive which is the last thing you want to be doing when you want to be gaining his trust and friendship ;):
I firmly say NO and give him a stern look
Instead you want to be associating yourself with only good experiences... like the eating together. That sounds lovely. :)

It also appears he is biting you a lot. The more he bites in any given situation, the more he is learning to bite. So read his body language and try at all costs to avoid the bite. You can also teach him to step up on a hand held perch so that he doesn't have a chance to bite your hand if you need to move him places. Also if going to stroke him/skritch his head results in a lunge or bite, don't do it for now. Concentrate on keeping his body language as relaxed as possible.... you want all your interactions to be positive for him and not aversive.

Clicker training is just training with the added aid of a clicker to mark the correct behaviour. It is the reinforcer that is the important part of training... clicker or no clicker. I don't really like clickers as it's an extra thing to hold. I prefer to bridge with a verbal "Good!" and then immediately deliver the reinforcer.
 

Char96

Regular Member
Registered
Thankyou for all your quick responses! Ok so
-max was16 weeks when he came to live with us
-max is 8 months old now so still a baby
-we live in the north of Scotland
- his food bowls are in his cage in the morning when I put him back in so he has something to go forage in
- the only time I put him back in the cage is morning time and the rest of the day it’s my husband as max will scream and throw a tantrum
-I could possibly get up earlier to have some in the cage time before I go but this would mean waking max is at 5am and he wouldn’t get a decent sleep as I know 10-12 hours is important for them.
-when he is put in the cage he does this high pitched peep noise and goes a bit panicky. Like a I’m being left behind panic call out to us, even if we’re sat right there with him and you can’t distract him through the bars or anything he’s just not interested. He sometimes does this outside the cage too which when he constantly does it can be quite ear piercing so we try not to react when he does it and instead only react to other noises. This was the same sound our old grey milo made when we left the room however max does it all the time even when we’re trying to interact with him it’s quite confusing.
I can post videos of certain things I try if that would help so you could suggest where I could improve. I really do try and want to make this work. I must admit I get so jealous and envious seeing online people’s greys where they can flip upside down and just have this little buddy. Max prefers to do hisown thing and not play or sit with us. Well over £100 of toys and training toys on northern parrots for him to not be interested in anything we offer, just the stuff away from us 🤦🏼‍♀️ Yet again, thanks everyone :)
 

AMD

Regular Member
I use the vets in falkirk a bit to far from you I don't think he would recommend the wing clipping you won't go far wrong with the advice from Roz and Michael
 

JackAndRob

Regular Member
Hi, and welcome to the forum. Yes, you have to post videos to something like YouTube, then you can link to them on the forum.

I am sorry that your relationship with Max has broken down. It is heartbreaking when you shower a bird with love and seem to get nowhere. We had a Quaker like that.

Can you describe the environment that Max is kept in please? Could it be something in and around the rooms he goes in that unsettles him, making him take out his frustrations on you? Colours, odours, noises, ornaments, furnishings, things visible through windows, etc - it could one of a number of things. For example, the colour yellow badly sets off my Jardine. She is normally very sweet, cuddly and playful, but she has attacked me several times e.g. Morrisons bags and Marigold gloves have a really bad effect on her. Pointing a camera at her does the same thing too - her head goes down and she flies straight at me. Fortunately, she recovers from these episodes very quickly - a couple of minutes of alone time in her cage and she is completely transformed, lovable and sweet again. I let her out and it's like it never happened.

Basically I'm suggesting that Max's behaviour towards you could be a consequence of something else.
 

Char96

Regular Member
Registered
Max is kept in our living room, it might be the most ideal place but our house is small. We don’t have a dining room or quiet side room for him. His cage is right next to the sofa so he’s always near us. Everything I do round the house I try to take him about with me. If I’m in another room he’s not quite so arsey with me he just steps up and steps down into whatever surface I put him on and he runs about exploring which is what I want him to do. But in the living room he just has a attitude problem 😂 I knew about the possibility of certain things upsetting him as our old grey was scared of beards hats and baskets. So far max only seems to dislike sunglasses even if their in your head 🤦🏼‍♀️ I’ve dragged his stand round the the other side of the sofa (L shape) and sat with him away from his cage incase it was a territory thing but even then he wants no contact with me. I don’t want to push him and force him to interact with me but I don’t want him to learn and think I don’t want to play and interact with him if that makes sense 🤔I do try to wait for him to come to me but that very rarely happens and if he does he’s looking at me hands because he knows I give him cashews when he comes over and I think he just sees me as a food provider and nothing more :( it’s just depressing when I work so so hard with him and soon as he gets the opportunity to be next to my husband he’ll bomb it over even if my husband has gave him zero attention in days. It’s hard to stay positive that things will get better and he will learn and come around but I’m running out of hope at this rate :( it’s hard to make him trust me when I’ve never gave him a reason not to :/
 

dianaT

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
:welcome: from me too. I sympathise very much with you as our late Grey used to do the same to me.

I cannot add to the good advice given.
 

Lauraj

Regular Member
Registered
Welcome from me!
I have a grey also who is 10 months old, getting myself prepared for all this to come 🤦🏼‍♀️ sorry this is happening with your grey and i hope things get better soon, the advice you've been given is wonderful!

Strange someone mentioned colours though, our grey hates the colour red. I went out for a girls night in a lovely red dress, however Bo wanted to rip me to pieces, also coats really annoy him. It's wonderful taking your coat off at the front door so the bird doesn't fall out with you because you've had the cheek to keep warm! Absolute characters.

All the members have so much experience and are very willing to help.
 
Hi and welcome to the forum, I can't add anything to the advice, but just wanted to say hi and that you've joined a great forum for help and support. I'd have gone crazy(er!) without the reassurance and help from a lot of these guys over the years! I've a similar situation with our male macaw, so I do sympathize. You'll get there! ;)
 

Char96

Regular Member
Registered
Thankyou all for your great advice. It’s given me some motivation to just carry on, try not to stress and I’ll make small changes and see if they help and will report back 🤞🏻 I’m going to get up 15 mins earlier so he’s out 545-630 and I’ll spend the last 20 minutes with him back in the cage but with door open and see if I can settle him before I go to work. I’ll try and just let him do his own thing when he’s out the cage, I can’t make him want to spend time with me but hopefully he’ll realise I’m more fun than toys. I’m thinking maybe because he’s young everything’s all fun and exciting and he just wants to play on his own. I was just hoping it was something I could nip in the bud whilst he’s young but seems it’s going to be a long process. Oh well, only way is up right? 🤣
 

Char96

Regular Member
Registered
Thankyou! I do hope so 🥰I love macaws
Hi and welcome to the forum, I can't add anything to the advice, but just wanted to say hi and that you've joined a great forum for help and support. I'd have gone crazy(er!) without the reassurance and help from a lot of these guys over the years! I've a similar situation with our male macaw, so I do sympathize. You'll get there! ;)
 

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
At eight months old he is still a baby, during this time he is trying to establish him self and what he can get away with. its up to you to guide him, can I ask was you present when his wings where clipped?
 

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
I have found that stick training is a good way to teach a bird not to bite, only rewarding when they touch the end or gently hold the end of the stick. toys with young birds, you should play with the toys in front of your bird and act excited encouraging you bird to join in. do not be disheartened his actions are not territorial and this stage will soon pass as he learns his limits, you are the leader of the flock and have to act like his parents so like any child its your duty to teach them good from bad. x
 

Kendra

Regular Member
I lived in Scotland until recently and avian vet's are practically non- existent, yes Falkirk is the only one, people travel from Sky to see them but it is difficult. I have a grey and he does not like me, prefers my husband but he is rarely here so we have reached, after 4 years and understanding. I chat and spoil him with treats, otherwise he does as he wishes. When in Scotland he had a huge cage in the corner of the room, an indoor aviary really which was 'home made', he had no problem going back in, now he rarely goes in his little cage, only for feeding but I now have a parrot room for him and 3 others.

Why since I moved down to England have many Scottish members joined?
 

Char96

Regular Member
Registered
At eight months old he is still a baby, during this time he is trying to establish him self and what he can get away with. its up to you to guide him, can I ask was you present when his wings where clipped?
No we stayed in the waiting room as the vet said he’d associate the bad experience with us :( was happy as anything to see us after though!
 
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