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Need Some Help With My African Grey Please.

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by AfricanGrey, Feb 21, 2017.

  1. AfricanGrey

    AfricanGrey Registered

    Hi there, 5 days ago I got my lovely African grey, he is 25 years old according to the last seller but I can't verify this. I bonded with him on the first night, he came up to me and bowed his head for me to give him a scratch, since then we've been having a great time. On day two I got him to sit on my shoulder and that's when it started, the problem. He makes these whimpering sounds and like regurgitates his food while bobbing his head and tried to feed me, while he is doing this his wings are like out slightly and very low. I've read some places that this means he loves me and that but like it's not a nice behaviour cos he does it every time I pick him up, I just want him to be like a normal bird and sit on my shoulders calmly and not try to mouth kiss me and feed me. Sometimes I see food even come out his beak and it's not very nice, also when people come over I try not to pick him because of this. Oh and I'm 22 and a male.

    I've searched online how to stop your parrot from trying to mouth feed you but have found nothing so I was hoping someone here could help me? Like how do I stop him from doing this?

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  2. TomsMum

    TomsMum Administrator Staff Member Admin

    Hi there and :welcome: to the forum...what a lovely grey you have.

    Urmmmmm...well you should feel honoured that he has taken to you so quickly after coming to live with you, and yes those are standard hormonal parrot behaviours... but if know what you mean it can be rather unpleasant and difficult to explain if in non-birdie peeps company :risas3:

    Does he play with toys, like to chew wood...things like this....you need to try and distract his attention away from loving you like that.

    I will tag in our forum nominated trainer @Roz to ask if she has any good tips for encouraging different behaviour.
    Hopefully the over attention should pass in a few weeks once he calms down a bit.
  3. AfricanGrey

    AfricanGrey Registered

    Hi and thank you for the welcome.

    I am honoured, I really am. I'm so happy that he got used to his new home so quickly.

    He has plenty of toys in his cage but the thing is he plays with them rarely. How he plays is by grabbing onto the top of the cage and climbing so he is upside down then goes back on the perch. I've not really seen him play with his toys other then biting them.

    When I hold him later on I'll try distracting him and seeing how it works. Also thank you very much for the tag, just got this app so I don't know how the tagging will work but I'm sure I'll figure it out. Thanks again.

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  4. marley

    marley Regular Member

    Well done for taking on an older bird, I for one do not agree with parrots on shoulders and the best way to stop him trying to feed you is to not let him near your face, if on your hand he starts just put him down, he will quickly learn you are not after a meal!
  5. AfricanGrey

    AfricanGrey Registered

    Hi Marley, oh right, I'm just curious as to why you disagree on parrots on shoulders ? Don't need to get into great detail but it would be nice to enlighten me, thanks.

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  6. Roz

    Roz Regular Member

    :welcome: AfricanGrey! Thanks for the tag, TomsMum. Wow sounds like you and he were meant for each other! :D

    Yep with any unwanted behaviour, remove the reinforcement for it, and instead reinforce another behaviour. Make a desired behaviour more reinforcing than the undesired behaviour so he will choose to do the desired behaviour in the future. So it may mean as marley said, to immediately put him down to remove the reinforcement (being close to your face). At the same time reinforce another behaviour. Your attention and close proximity sounds as if it is reinforcing so you could try using praise whilst sticking close by for doing something else. You could even teach him to play... show him a small foot toy (a piece of balsa wood, or ice cream stick etc). Or get him to step up onto your hand holding your arm in a V so it is difficult to climb onto your shoulder again, and take him exploring different areas of the house or to look out of the window and back again before he attempts to do the unwanted behaviour. It is that time of year, so hopefully the regurgitation will calm down later. If being on your shoulder results in the unwanted behaviour every time, then maybe discourage him being on your shoulder for now. Then you could work on inviting him up for increasing lengths of time removing him before he even thinks of regurgitating to get him out of the habit.

    He may not have had many toys in his old home and amused himself with the repetitive behaviour. Chewing toys is great! A lot of toys are made of hard wood which is pretty much indestructible for most medium sized beaks. Look out for toys made of soft wood (like untreated pine slats) and even the very soft balsa wood to get him going. The fun is in the destroying of them. Try foraging toys too... and wrapping favourite treats such as pieces of nut (almond, cashew, walnut) in pieces of coffee filter paper (wrap loosely so he can see what's inside first and slowly wrap tighter so he has to work for them) and put them in his dry bowl. You could fill an unused food bowl with foot toys. You can teach him to play and interact with toys by playing with him to start with.

    Having a parrot on your shoulder can be dangerous if he/she bites your face. There are some circumstances when this can happen even with a parrot that is closely bonded to you... such as a stranger walking in and it resulting in misplaced aggression, ie. biting you rather than the stranger because you are closest. Or maybe you grab something unfamiliar such as the TV remote - again the parrot bites the nearest thing - your face if he's on your shoulder. Two of my parrots, Kobe and Bobbie, hang out on my shoulder, but I am always aware of what is going on in the environment.
    tka and TomsMum like this.
  7. Michael Reynolds

    Michael Reynolds Regular Member

    Hello and welcome I am pleased he has taken to you but all I do is put them down when they start there passionate advances and they soon learn that to be with you they cannot do it
  8. Bradders

    Bradders Parrot Power! Staff Member Moderator

    Hello and welcome from me and my grey Ruby! Your comment made me smile about wanting 'a normal parrot'. When you find one, let me know, I'd love to meet one! Haha Seriously though, that is what makes parrots so brilliant is their individuality!

    Completely agree with Roz, encouraging play is important. Our Ruby loves treats wrapped in paper pushed through a cardboard tube, hidden in egg boxes. She just finds it so rewarding. We're lucky as our grey has not over bonded with either of us. However, given the choice, she would bond with my OH, she displays similar behaviour occasionally to him, he just calmly returns her to her java tree if she does that and she stops. Also try not to stroke your grey down his back or under his wings - you would be encouraging that attention by doing that. As for the shoulder, we do allow Ruby on our shoulder if she flies over to us and she does get over confident sometimes and can nip us. I can read the signs though and remove her if she gets too cocky!

    What's your grey called? And have you always had an interest in parrot? Is he your first bird? Being nosey now. Haha
    tka, Roz and TomsMum like this.
  9. Roz

    Roz Regular Member

    Ha yes, I just returned to say keep stroking to head and neck, because as Bradders just said, stroking the back and under the wings can encourage mating behaviour.
  10. AfricanGrey

    AfricanGrey Registered

    Omg thanks for all the lovely and informative replies!!

    Roz, I tried what you said and when I held him I put my arm in a V shape but he just climbs down the arm and right back up! And when I bend the arm so that he's unable to walk down he just jumps to the shoulder haha. I don't think he's been taught the step up command either because when he's on the shoulder and I try to get him on my hand he just backs off or the walks away from my hand. Also when he was doing that mating thing I tried distracting him with a toy be he wasn't interested in it sadly. And it's hard for me to get him to come off when he does it which is 90% of the time cos he doesn't step onto the hand. I brought a parrot stand so I can begin training him to step up and such but he's scared of it and that's because the perches are wooden and the previous owner told me he is scared of wood! So when I try getting him on the parrot stand he flys off, also he's so scared of it that if I put it near his cage he won't even come out even though I put his favourite treats on the stand.

    I wish it was easy for me to simply get him off me when he does it but he won't stand on my hand haha.

    Hahahha yeah I guess no parrot is normal but you know what I meant! Also I read that stroking him on the back and under the wings would encourage that but I never do! He's called George, I'm not even sure if he knows he is callev george cos he doesn't say his name or anything. I would have renamed him but he previous owner had him for 5 years so it wouldn't be right. He's not my first bird, I've owned a lovebird before and he was 'normal' when it came to sitting on the shoulder, he would sit for hours just chilling lol.

    Thanks again for all the replies and welcomes!

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  11. Roz

    Roz Regular Member

    Hahahaha - I will admit I have the same trouble with Bobbie, my Red-lored Amazon. She also makes a bee line for my shoulder and won't get off. As she goes into mating behaviour I turn my face away. I have noticed I can distract her/get her to stop briefly if I say "mwahahahaha!" or "hmmmm" both of which she says. Then I'll lean down either in her cage so that she can then climb off my back and onto a perch or I'll get her to step off my hand onto her stand. When she does step off then I'll skritch her head and give her lots of praise. Stepping down earns lots of reinforcement. She'll now sit on my knee nicely (ie. no mating behaviour) which I reinforce with non stop head skritching to keep her there and not digging/nesting in the sofa... or in my face! I'm trying to reinforce behaviour I want to see more of and remove reinforcement for the unwanted behaviour.

    That's great you bought a parrot stand. It doesn't matter if the perches are wooden. You can gently desensitize him to the stand. Start by placing the stand way over on the other side of the room from where George's cage is... ie. as far away as possible so that it doesn't provoke more than the mildest of reactions. Then slowly over the next few days, week or even month bring it increasingly closer to him. Remember you want to see his relaxed body language with it in the room. Before you know it, it will be near his cage and he will be fine with it there. Then you can start pairing the stand with good things when it is close enough... give George treats. He'll come to realise that good things happen around the stand and eventually he'll want to explore for himself. This is how I desensitised Ollie my Orange-winged Amazon who was untame at that point to a travel cage. He was afraid of it to start with.

    It would be a good idea to teach George to step up. You can easily teach him from inside his cage if you like. You can do this using a method called Shaping. You can shape any behaviour you want to... from targeting, to turning circles, to stepping up, to holding feet still so that you can cut/file his nails... the list is endless. It's breaking down the final target behaviour (the step up or whatever) into tiny manageable steps. It's easier if you have a look here to see how to do it:

    TomsMum likes this.
  12. dianaT

    dianaT Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    :welcome: from me and my flock.